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Campaigners celebrate a second turbines victory

Campaigners fighting plans for one of the tallest windfarms in the country have won another victory.

A proposal for nine turbines at Solway Moss, between Longtown and Gretna, was rejected by Carlisle city councillors last year.

Now they have turned down another planning application from EDF Energy Renewables to renew consent for a temporary wind-monitoring mast.

The mast collects data to assess the site’s suitability for a windfarm and has been in place for two years.

Fifty-eight people objected, arguing there is no longer a need for a monitoring mast given the windfarm has been turned down.

Councillors on the development control committee agreed.

Speaking after the meeting, Longtown councillor Ray Bloxham said: “The committee was unanimous. What the objectors were saying was quite right.

“If the mast has been there since 2009, how long is temporary?

“And if we have refused planning permission for a windfarm, then what is the point of the mast?

EDF is not saying if it will appeal. A spokesman said: “We of course are disappointed that this application has been turned down as the mast was providing important wind data.

“We will read the comments on this decision carefully before deciding what action to take next.”

The 413ft-high turbines proposed for Solway Moss would be three times the height of Carlisle Civic Centre and only 100ft shy of Blackpool Tower.

Councillors refused consent in December because of an objection from the Ministry of Defence.

It argued that vibrations or ‘seismic noise’ from the turbines could interfere with equipment at Eskdalemuir, near Langholm, that monitors nuclear tests under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The MoD says this equipment can handle seismic noise from existing windfarms but cannot cope with any more.

It is likely that EDF is waiting for the outcome of a public inquiry into a proposed windfarm at Newfield, near Lockerbie, before deciding whether to appeal against refusal of the Solway Moss turbines. Newfield is also within the Eskdalemuir safeguarding zone. The company behind it, Wind Energy (Newfield), claims to have a design solution that means “there will be no adverse effects on Eskdalemuir.”

The inquiry was adjourned in February 2011 to allow talks between Wind Energy (Newfield) and the MoD.

Those discussions, which included tests and reports on mitigation measures, are continuing.