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Planners approve application for wind turbine to go up at Rudyard farm

Planners have approved controversial plans for a wind turbine – but thrown out applications for two others.

More than 900 people objected to dairy farmer Stuart Heath’s proposal for a 34.2m mast at Red Earth Farm, Rudyard.

They claimed the structure would ruin the area’s scenic views and could affect wildlife.

But planning officers at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council advised the authority’s planning committee to approve the turbine.

Members heard from three objectors yesterday at Moorlands House.

Matthew Cooper, of Leekfrith, said: “This is an area of special sensitivity and this turbine would have a dramatic impact.

“This is an industrial turbine being installed purely for financial gain.”

A previous application for a 72-metre mast on the farm was turned down in December, and Mr Heath said he had tried to address the concerns raised.

He told the meeting alternative energy was needed to help with the costs of his farm. “I constantly strive to be a good farmer and I believe that means putting more back than you take out,” he said.

“This is not about making a fast buck but to make sure the infrastructure is in place to allow us to improve it for future generations.”

The committee voted to approve the turbine by eight votes to one.

Liberal democrat councillor John Fisher said: “It will be seen from certain positions in Leek, but it’s not in the middle of the Roaches. It’s on the fringes of this beautiful ridge.

“The nearest property is 700 metres away. People don’t live near this.”

Two further turbine applications failed to find favour with the committee.

Members criticised a proposal from David Cotton for a 79.6m turbine at Blakely Farm in Whiston – a site close to Cotton Dell Nature Reserve and one of the Staffordshire Moorlands Walks.

Twenty letters of objection were received from residents concerned about the impact on the landscape and wildlife.

Protester Keith Alcock, of Cotton Lane, said: “All the windows on my property will face this turbine.

“The location is on the top of the ridge and will be seen from miles around.” The committee unanimously voted to reject the application.

Conservative councillor Mike Worthington said: “This is the most un-neighbourly application I have ever seen. This is obviously a money-making venture.”

Moorlands Democratic Alliance councillor Ron Locker added: “This is a ridiculous application. This is a beautiful area and it would be desecrated.”

Another farmer, Mark Pickford, also had his application turned down because of the impact a turbine would have on the landscape.

He had applied to erect a 34.2m structure on his land at Kniveden Farm in Mount Road, Leek, prompting more than 50 objections from the public.

Neighbour Linda Beighton, from nearby Pikehall Farm, told planning committee members: “A walk along The Mount gives fine views. Great care should be taken to preserve the area.”

Rejecting the proposal, Labour councillor Margaret Lovatt said: “The Mount is a very popular walk used by hundreds of people.

“All those people walking past will be in sight of, and will be very close to, the mast.”