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Group calls for public meeting  

Credit:  North-West Evening Mail, www.nwemail.co.uk 12 September 2011 ~~

A campaign group is calling for a public meeting to discuss a raft of wind turbine planning applications.

The Furness Windturbine Action Group said it will hand out 10,000 leaflets to tell people about its concerns regarding the potential of the landscape being dominated by turbines.

The group was formed after residents in the Stank area learned of an application for a wind turbine near Furness Abbey.

The campaigners discovered there are numerous planning applications which have been submitted to Barrow Borough Council.

Alan Stoker, who lives at South Lodge near Furness Abbey, is one of the founding members of the group.

He said: “We have great concerns about the visual impact of having a turbine which would be visible from Furness Abbey.

“Then as we started to look into that application we saw the potential horror which is developing around the area.”

Mr Stoker said he and other members believe there could be an influx of turbines built on farmland, as companies are offering farmers financial incentives to install turbines on their land.

He said the local community needs to know more about the applications and the effect they, and any future applications, could have on residents and the area.

Mr Stoker said: “We need to raise awareness so the general public can understand the significance of these applications.

“We want to discuss them and then hopefully people will see the negative impact they could have on our area.

“There is so little detail within the planning applications which have been submitted.

“It is very difficult for someone to pick one up and understand what affect it is going to have on their life. There needs to be a public meeting.”

Jason Hipkiss, principal planning officer at Barrow Borough Council, said: “Anyone with any concerns can phone us, come into town hall or check out the applications on our website.

“We treat the application process for a wind turbine the same as we would for any other development.

“We have had a significant number of applications for wind turbines come in this year, the majority of which have been from farms.”

Mr Hipkiss said the council was currently dealing with around 10 separate applications for wind turbines.

Mr Stoker also said the group was particularly concerned about turbines being built close to two heritage areas: Furness Abbey and Bow Bridge.

Bow Bridge was built in the 15th century and English Heritage described it as being positioned on one of the most important medieval trading routes in north west England.

Councillor Ann Thomson, chairwoman of Barrow Borough Council’s planning committee said all cases would be dealt with on merit.

She said: “They are all dealt with as a single applications. We haven’t got a policy on windfarms so each will be dealt with on its own merit.

“If there are any concerns or planning issues with them then we will look at each one separately.

“We have specific policies which are there to protect heritage sites, but I can’t speak on any individual applications.”

Applications for single wind turbines have prompted debate across south and west Cumbria, known as Britain’s Energy Coast.

In one recent case, the government’s planning inspectorate overturned a decision to refuse permission for a wind turbine to power a proposed new cricket pavilion.

Lindal Moor Cricket Club lodged the appeal after South Lakeland District Council rejected the controversial application for the 14-metre-high turbine in December last year.

Nearby residents were against the turbine and SLDC’s planning committee ruled the location of the renewable energy device was too close to homes in Pennington Lane, Lindal.

Inspector Richard Ogier said in his report: “The proposed turbine would not result in an unacceptable visual impact on its surroundings or a material loss of visual amenity for neighbouring residents.

“It would cause no material harm to the amenity of residents or the general amenity of the locality in visual impact and noise terms.

“Nor would it be at odds with the landscape or visual impact criteria.”

Councillor Alfred Waite, chairman of Lindal and Marton Parish Council, which objected to the wind turbine, said he believed the cricket club may have lost the goodwill of the villagers.

He said: “When you object against anything as a parish council to represent the people and it gets turned around, you’re disappointed, but in this case there’s not a lot we can do about it.”

Mike Hughes, project manager of the cricket club plan, did not wish to comment on the decision.

He said the fundraising appeal to make the wind turbine and new pavilion a reality was ongoing.

Councillor Frank McPhillips, a member of Millom Town Council raised fears that, alongside offshore developments, south Copeland could become surrounded by turbines.

He said: “I do not like them, I think they’re a blot on the landscape and a monstrosity.

“On the coldest days in winter there is no wind and no electric but this is when people use more electricity – so you still need coal-fired systems to back them up.

“If it wasn’t for subsidies there would be no money involved in them – in America they are dismantling them because they are totally inefficient.”

Councillor Sue Brown, who represents Seascale and Whicham on Cumbria County Council, said: “We signed our own death certificate when we signed up to Britain’s Energy Coast.

“I think as a council we felt it was for nuclear but the government recognised we had signed up to the energy coast and decided we would be through hell or high water so we are getting all of this.

“I am really concerned I can’t see the benefit in fact I think it is the other way around.

“The members on the national park should be given more say in this – several land-based ones are automatically passed on officer recommendations.

“I would be happier if we got long terms jobs from them.

“They are a blot on the landscape. I wonder when somebody is going to say enough is enough.”

The applications for the turbines in Barrow are set to be discussed by the council’s planning committee at a future planning meeting, yet to be decided.

Source:  North-West Evening Mail, www.nwemail.co.uk 12 September 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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