September 20, 2012

Anger after wind farm plan is given go-ahead on appeal

Yorkshire Post | 20 September 2012

Protesters fighting plans for a controversial wind farm in North Yorkshire reacted angrily after learning a planning inspector has allowed the development to go-ahead.

Last year Selby Council’s planning committee rejected plans for the scheme to build five wind turbines, each more than 400ft tall, in the village of Cliffe, near Selby. But following an appeal hearing a planning inspector has overturned the decision and ruled the project should be given the go-ahead.

Nigel Adams, MP for Selby and Ainsty, who has campaigned against large wind farms in the district, said: “I am extremely disappointed and saddened that the inspector has failed to take into account the views of local residents and that he has ridden roughshod over the decision by Selby District Council to refuse the application.

“It is a very bad day for local residents and for the consumers who pick up the bill for these monstrosities.”

Tony Wray, who lives near the site, criticised the decision to give the green light to the Cleek Hall wind farm.

“This is this is indeed a very sad day for the residents in the Selby area, and for others like me who live close to this wind farm,” he added.

Campaigners opposed to the development had raised fears the North Yorkshire district will be swamped by renewable energy developments if the project was given the go-ahead.

Originally council officers had recommended the development at Cleek Hall, in Turnham Lane, be approved in line with its renewable energy benefits. However the council’s planning committee went against the recommendations and threw the application out saying the turbines would have an “unacceptable” visual impact on the surrounding countryside.

The application was also rejected because of the scale, height and proximity to neighbouring houses and communities in Barlow and Cliffe.

In a report however, the planning inspector, overturns the decision and recommends it is given the go-ahead saying: “the qualities of remoteness and tranquillity” that locals love about the area would not be significantly affected by the scheme.

The inspector, in his report, accepts that the wind farm will have an impact upon the local landscape but argues it is an ordinary landscape that: “has capacity to absorb a wind farm of the scale proposed.”

He says any perceived harm would be reversible as it is intended that the wind farm would be decommissioned and removed after 25 years.

Three parish councils had objected to the proposals and the Barlow Wind Farm Action Group handed in a 201-signature protest petition to Selby Council.

The authority also received 140 letters of opposition from residents. Robin Hood Airport, near Doncaster, and the Burn Gliding Club also raised objections.

The scheme, which developers Hallam Land Management say will provide a boost for the local economy, is one in a series of developments that have been earmarked across the Selby district and into North Lincolnshire.

It is understood that the locations have been chosen as they give easy access to tap into the National Grid due to the close proximity of three major power stations at Drax, Ferrybridge and Eggborough, which have seen the area dubbed Megawatt Valley.

The site and its surroundings are comprised of flat open arable land offering extensive views across the Ouse river plain.

The developers have said that once operational it is anticipated that the wind farm will be able to meet the electricity requirements of between 4905 and 5887 homes in the region.

The wind farm will have an operational life of 25 years after which the land is expected to be reinstated to its former agricultural land use.

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