Villagers are launching a fresh fighting fund to battle against plans for a 100m-high wind turbine near Cumwhinton on the outskirts of Carlisle.
Campaigners say they will need about £13,500 to pay for a legal team and expert witnesses to represent their views at a public inquiry in May.
Members of the village’s Anti-Wind Farm Action Group are calling on each of the 200 households in Cumwhinton to donate £50, a move that could raise £10,000. They are also planning a series of social events to bolster the funds.
Group leaders believe the sum per household is a “minute” amount compared to the loss of value their homes would suffer if the turbine is built.
Residents are being urged to write to the Planning Inspectorate by next Friday to object to the turbine bid. Campaigners say late comments received by the Bristol-based inspectorate after that date will be ignored.
They hope success at the inquiry will allow enough time for a Bill coming through Parliament to become law. It seeks to introduce a minimum distance between turbines and people’s homes.
The renewed fight is the latest step in a four-year battle for villagers against plans from Bolderstone Innovative Energy. The company wants to build a turbine at Newlands Farm near junction 42 of the M6.
Carlisle city councillors refused to give the company planning permission in November on the grounds that the turbine – which would be taller than Dixon’s Chimney – would be too close to Cringles Farm and Beech Cottage.
Bolderstone has appealed, triggering an inquiry that will be held at the Civic Centre in Carlisle in May.
It is not the first public inquiry into turbine proposals at Newlands Farm. Two years ago a planning inspector ruled that Bolderstone’s earlier plans for three turbines would have a “significant detrimental impact” on those living closest to the site.
A public meeting at Cumwhinton village hall on Wednesday attracted more than 50 residents and supporters, where it was agreed a new cash appeal was needed.
It comes after villagers successfully raised more than £23,000 in a few months to fight the first public inquiry, held in 2009.
David Morton, who chaired Wednesday’s meeting, said: “Our professional advisers say our best chance of success is to do what we did last time. We must get a good representation from the village; letters, people who want to speak.
“The inspector was impressed with the response and strength of feeling last time. We need as many residents as possible to turn up at the public inquiry and submit comments before next Friday.”
He added: “It would be unfortunate in this interim period [before a Bill may become law], if this is allowed to go ahead. It could affect all 200 homes in our village, all that stand in a potential exclusion zone if this Bill goes through. But it isn’t law yet.
“We’re hoping this could be the last time we fight this because this Bill could give us the same protection that they have 10 miles up the road from us. If not it means 200 families will be directly affected by one turbine.”
Campaigners have contacted Carlisle MP John Stevenson and his Penrith and the Border counterpart Rory Stewart.
Mr Stevenson, unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting, had a statement read out on his behalf.
Expressing his “disappointment” at Bolderstone’s appeal, Mr Stevenson said: “I believe it would be unfair that a community, which has strongly opposed wind turbines during the planning application process, is once again being challenged in a forceful manner.
“I am against land-sited wind turbines in any areas of my constituency and particularly turbines which are proposed so close to dwellings, altering the quality of life for many residents and creating a blot on unspoilt landscape.”
He added: “I am aware that a Bill is currently proceeding through the House of Lords which proposes a minimum distance from which a wind turbine could be erected from a dwelling. When this Bill reaches the Commons I will, of course, support the Bill. However, unfortunately I have no power to speed the process of this up.
“In the meantime, I will continue to offer my support to the residents of Cumwhinton against this turbine and throughout this forthcoming inquiry.”
The anti-windfarm group’s first fundraising social event will be a dance, including a pie and pea supper and auction, on March 24.
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