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Villagers' fight against wind farm plan appeal

Protesters fighting wind farm plans for Cottam gathered on the steps of Retford Town Hall prior to the start of a public hearing.

Around 30 residents of villages from the surrounding area had gathered to protest the plans, before entering the building to hear from representatives on behalf of the application, as well as from Bassetlaw Council.

Many of the protestors held signs objecting to the plans and the concentration of power generation sites, both existing and proposed, in the area.

Bob Fleming, a spokesman for the Association Of Trentside Parish Councils representing villages in the area, claimed the proposal would make surrounding land among the most developed in the UK if it went ahead.

“Our major objection is this is a public hearing, not a public inquiry; and to the cumulative effect of these developments,” he said.

“The result of this will be the biggest concentration of power generating sites in the UK.”

Wheatley Energy Forum chairman John Anderson added: “We are threatened with a destruction of our remaining landscape.

“We already suffer from looming power stations and our only visual escape is threatened by the construction of turbines that will truly degrade the landscape of the Trent Valley.”

Bassetlaw Council had rejected the proposals for twelve 145m turbines in July last year, prompting applicants ProWind to place an appeal in February.

Since then, campaigners from the Association of Trentside Parish Councils have called on Bassetlaw Council to seek a planning inquiry.

Opening the hearing on Tuesday, chartered landscape architect Christopher Frost, who chaired the meeting, said a full inquiry was unnecessary.

“An inquiry is usually needed when there is disagreement between the main parties on something that needs considerable investigation. I think in this case, the matters can be resolved through a hearing.”

But there was an immediate snag when Mr Fletcher said a statement of common ground produced by Bassetlaw Council and ProWind to establish information agreed on by both parties needed to be more up to date.

He said: “It’s unfortunate officers of the council don’t appear to be here today.

“Clearly this is an important report and clarity is required on it, and we probably need to gain that clarity on it and explore it before examining the issues further.”

Representing Bassetlaw Council, Robert Fletcher, of Baseley Associates, said the document had been drawn up through council officers and not elected members.

“I must say I was surprised when I came to the case that it was agreed by officers and not referred by members,” he said.

“I am taking the members’ view on the cumulative impact and whether the landscape can absorb it.”

Members of Bassetlaw Council’s planning committee had originally rejected the proposals on the grounds of size and the impact on the landscape, in an area home to several power stations.

Following an afternoon site visit, the hearing was adjourned to July 14.