May 30, 2012

MP to inquiry: Reject 300ft turbine ‘blight’

By Julian Whittle, News & Star, 30 May 2012

Carlisle MP John Stevenson has told a public inquiry that a 328ft wind turbine at Cumwhinton would be a “blight” on the landscape.

Bolsterstone Innovative Energy is appealing against Carlisle City Council’s decision to refuse planning consent for the turbine at Newlands Farm.

A previous application for three turbines was turned down in 2010, following an inquiry, because the inspector felt they would have an unacceptable impact on nearby Cringles Farm and Beech Cottage.

Mr Stevenson said: “This application is, to all intents and purposes, a replica of the original application and the issues that arose from that apply to this one too.

“I am opposed to wind turbines on land, though not offshore. Within this area they are a blight and of little value.

“Approval would set a dangerous precedent.”

The Conservative MP said the turbine would have a “significant detrimental impact” on nearby homes – the whole of the village of Cumwhinton is within one mile of the proposed turbine site.

He added: “One has to question the economic benefit, given the application is for one turbine, and contrast this with the social and environmental damage to people who live in the vicinity.”

The inquiry at Carlisle Civic Centre opened yesterday and is scheduled to last three days.

Its chairwoman, principal planning inspector Wendy Burden, said the outcome would hinge on policy issues and whether there would be any “harmful visual impact” affecting Cringles Farm and Beech Cottage in particular.

Outlining Bolsterstone’s case, Paul Tucker QC quoted the Government’s new National Planning Policy Framework as saying no part of the country is “out of bounds” for renewable energy. He added: “It is wrong to take the approach that the appeal site is unsuitable because it is in a rural area or because it will be seen from residential property.

“The mere loss of a view isn’t a reason to withhold consent. We think [the appeal] largely addresses the concerns of the previous inspector and that the reasons put forward for withholding consent are unsustainable.”

Richard Humphreys QC, representing the council, claimed that Bolsterstone’s environmental appraisal had underestimated the impact of the turbine.

He said: “A turbine up to 100 metres high to its blade tip is likely to be a massive, eye-catching structure.”

Mark Steele, a landscape architect appearing for the council, argued that the turbine would affect the “visual amenity” of up to 29 homes.

The inquiry is due to hear evidence from four more experts. In addition, 16 members of the public, all objectors, have asked to speak.

Bolsterstone’s planning application brought more than 1,100 objections.

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