An inquiry into plans for a 328ft-high wind turbine hinges on whether it would be “an overwhelming and unavoidable presence” in views from nearby homes.
Bolsterstone Innovative Energy has appealed against Carlisle City Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the turbine at Newlands Farm, Cumwhinton.
A three-day public inquiry at Carlisle Civic Centre finished yesterday. Principal planning inspector Wendy Burden expects to deliver her decision next month. It is likely to hinge on whether the turbine meets the ‘Lavender test’, named after a ruling from planning David Lavender at another public inquiry.
He said turbines should be refused only if they “represent an unpleasantly overwhelming and unavoidable presence” in main views from a house or garden.
Representing the council, Richard Humphreys QC said: “When comparing the substantial harm to residential amenity with the benefits of a single turbine, the adverse impacts demonstrably outweigh the benefits.”
But Paul Tucker QC, for Bolsterstone, said the turbine would help the UK meet renewable energy targets.
He added: “An unwelcome addition to the view is not justification for withholding planning permission. To assert that living conditions will be so unsatisfactory as to not allow this situation to occur is just wrong.”
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.
Carlisle MP John Stevenson told the inquiry this week: “This application is, to all intents and purposes, a replica of the original and the issues that arose from that apply to this one too.”
He said the turbine would be a blight and have a “significant detrimental impact”.
More than 1,100 people objected to Bolsterstone’s planning application and some spoke at the inquiry.
Rebecca Mullins said her autistic son, Peter, was susceptible to the noise and movement from the blades. The Rev Elizabeth Smith, who suffers from an ear disorder, said that low-frequency noise from the turbine could trigger attacks.
Maggie Cleave, who lives 650 metres away, said: “I am scared to death for my health and mental wellbeing. This turbine is gigantic. No amount of noise or screening will stop the noise and vibration.”
The inquiry heard from five expert witnesses including three landscape architects. Mark Steele, for the council, argued that the turbine would affect the “visual amenity” of up to 29 homes.
Carl Taylor, for Against Newlands Wind Farm, said there would be a “substantial visual impact” on Cringles Farm, Cooper’s Meadow, Beech Cottage and on six homes with planning consent but yet to be built. Cringles Farm is 420 metres away.
But James Welch, appearing for Bolsterstone, said: “This scheme is well within the margins of acceptability.”