Energy giant Banks Renewables has formally submitted a planning application to build a controversial windfarm at Killington.
The move follows several public exhibitions on proposals for three 135-metre turbines between the A684 and junction 37 of the M6, which have angered campaigners but have the backing of climate change activists.
Opponents argue the location is ‘inappropriate’ for development and are concerned about the site’s proximity to the M6 corridor and the proposed boundary extension of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Phil Dyke, Banks Renewables development director, said: “A great deal of careful planning has gone into creating an environmentally-suitable and efficient design for what we believe is an excellent location for this type of development.
“Generating more of the energy that we all use from renewable sources is one of the biggest challenges facing us in the coming decades, and we hope that South Lakeland District Council will recognise the contribution that the Killington scheme can make towards meeting it.”
Banks has created a so-called ‘community benefits fund’, worth £675,000 over 25 years, it said would pay for improved broadband for homes and businesses and help cut fuel bills.
Residents would decide how the fund, which the company hopes would ‘secure a positive, long-term local legacy for the windfarm’, is spent on community projects.
However, Dr Mike Hall, chairman of Friends of Eden, Lakeland and Lunesdale Scenery (FELLS), said the fight to block the scheme would be stepped up through rallies in New Hutton, Killington, Sedbergh and Barbon.
“Apart from Windermere, Killington is the major lake in South Lakeland which is used enormously for recreation,” said Dr Hall.
“It’s been there for 200 years, therefore it’s quite inappropriate to put a windfarm alongside a major leisure site of South Lakeland.
“Windfarms produce intermittent, low levels of electricity and save almost no carbon.”
Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron added his voice to the opposition this week.
Mr Farron said windfarms should be focused offshore, adding: “Wind is an important part of the energy mix but, if you’re building two or three of these turbines on the fells, it adds very little to it and causes divisions in communities.”
Tanya Hoare, coordinator of STAK – Stop Turbines At Killington, said the group was not opposed to green issues but the impact on the landscape from the Killington scheme would be too high a price to pay.
“The landscape is a major reason why visitors and residents live in this area,” said Mrs Hoare.
“Many people are unaware of how immense and intrusive these turbines will be – almost twice the height of those at Lambrigg – it will really change the ambience of this area.”
But South Lakes Action on Climate Change is supporting Banks, stating that the Lake District’s ecology was ‘significantly affected’ by climate change and windfarms were one way of helping secure Britain’s energy security.
Banks has promised to create up to 50 jobs through £4m worth of construction, security, accommodation and catering contracts.
And it said the windfarm would supply electricity to 9,500 homes annually, taking 23,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
The decision to approve or reject the windfarm will made by South Lakeland District Council’s planning committee.
An SLDC spokeswoman said the committee’s 18 councillors could rule on the application as early as December.
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