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Turbine breezes through despite swathe of protests

Approval has been given for a controversial wind turbine – despite 964 letters of objection and parish council protests.

Members of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s planning application committee gave the go ahead last week for the turbine, which will have a maximum height of 34.2 metres (112ft), at Red Earth Farm, Macclesfield Road, Rudyard.

However, at the same meeting members refused permission for a turbine of 79.6 metres (261ft) to be erected at Blakeley Farm, Blakeley Lane, Whiston.

Also refused was turbine of 34.2 metres (112ft) at Kniveden Farm, Mount Road, Leek.

Speaking against the Red Earth application, objector Matthew Cooper said: “There is no mention in the report about the effect on residents.

“Ninety-seven per cent of people in Leekfrith parish are against it. There are also 964 letters of objections. I hope you believe in democracy.”

Mr Cooper said villagers had received “no political help” because the applicant’s mother is Gill Heath, the district councillor for the area.

Because of the link, she was not legally allowed to participate in any debate on the issue.

Another objector, Lesley Roberts. said: “There is no mention the in report of the Churnet Valley being registered as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The site is in a special landscape area and the turbine will be seen from many locations.” The applicant, Stuart Heath, said the original submission was four times larger, but this had been reduced on the advice of officers.

Mr Heath said: “We run the farm and are trying to improve it. We need a thriving business as we have 500 dairy cows and employ people.

“Our electric bill is substantial and it is a challenge to sustain the business.

“We are also looking at having batterypowered farm vehicles. This is not about making a fast buck, but to manage the farm for future generations.” The committee voted eight to one in favour of approval.

The Whiston application was described as “the most unneighbourly plan ever seen”.

Councillor Mike Worthington said: “This is something that should be in the Irish Sea. I am appalled. Whoever has advised the applicant?

“This is a money-making idea and will be seen from the Welsh valley on a clear day.” Councillor Ron Locker said that each application had an agent or someone to speak to the committee to promote it, but in this case there was no-one.

He said: “This is monstrous and it is a ridiculous planning application.

“There are places in the Moorlands where turbines can go, but agents are going around farms seeking places to erect them.”

Chairman of Cotton Parish Council, Sheila Mitchell said the turbine would be one of the highest structures in the Moorlands.

She said: “It will have a negative effect on the surrounding area and all over the Churnet Valley. There are two nature reserves and woodlands, along with six listed building, in close proximity.”

The committee unanimously refused the application.

A third application for a wind turbine at Kniveden Farm on Mount Road, Leek. was also refused.

Councillor Margaret Lovatt said the area was used by hundreds of walkers weekly. She said: “Certain parts of this area were looked at in the Local Development Framework for housing development.

However it was agreed the area should be protected. The turbine would be close to what is a popular walking area.”

Councillor Ron Locker said the area already had a large television mast, which was enough.

He said: “This location for a wind turbine is wrong and it would be to obtrusive.”