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Villagers lose marathon battle against wind farm

A six-year campaign to prevent a wind farm being built in Northamptonshire countryside has been lost to developers.

RWE npower renewables won its appeal to build a 12-turbine wind farm located between the villages of Bozeat, Harrold and Lavendon following a public inquiry which ended last year.

The villagers launched protest group Blot in 2006 when the first application was made by energy provider RWE Npower Renewables for the site, which is known as Nun Wood.

That plan was withdrawn but a revised proposal, which straddles the counties of Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, was later submitted.

Despite the three appropriate councils either refusing the application, or recommending refusal, the appeal inspectorate ruled that the environmental benefits outweighed any potential harm.

In his written report the planning inspector, Trevor Cookson, recognised that the development would have a “significant effect on the character of the landscape of the area” and would be widely visible for a 6km radius.

But he concluded: “The degree of harm in landscape and visual amenity terms is limited.

“In my judgement the harm is outweighed by the urgent need for renewable energy as promoted in national and regional policies and the wider environmental and economic benefits that it would bring over a 25-year period.”

He included a number of conditions to combat minor issues.

A construction deadline has not yet been set, but Matt Pinfield, the regional manager for Eastern England at RWE npower renewables, said the company would continue to consult with the public throughout the next stages.

He added: “We are delighted with the Planning Inspector’s consent for Nun Wood Wind Farm.

“It is a superb location for a wind farm – well designed and appropriately sited and will generate enough energy to meet the annual average needs of thousands of homes each year.

“The Nun Wood Wind Farm will make a substantial contribution to clean energy supply and the reduction in emissions of greenhouse gasses.”

But volunteers behind Blot were crushed at the news, announcing it was “game over” and thanked residents for their support.

The website read: “BLOT has always campaigned on the grounds of protecting the valuable communities, countryside and amenities we have on our doorstep at Nun Wood and the Three Shires Way.

“Nun Wood never was, and still isn’t, the place to build such a massive industrial white elephant.

“It would appear that this ‘listening government’ is simply not listening.”

Although the group could launch a Judicial Review, it recognises that it would be a “heavy risk” as it could come with a cost of up to £40,000.

The developer will provide £1,000 of funding to the community per megawatt of energy created.

Local people will be involved in deciding how the money will be spent.

The company operates 19 hydroelectric power projects and 26 wind farms in the UK, including the country’s first major offshore wind farm, North Hoyle.