Furious villagers have slammed the decision to allow a new wind farm to be built at a Burnley beauty spot.
Cliviger residents branded it a “disgrace” as plans were passed to construct new 110m wind turbines in the village.
Protests were held by dozens of locals against the proposals by Scottish Power Renewables to replace the 24 existing turbines at Coal Clough Wind Farm with eight giant new ones.
Residents raised concerns about a proposed new access road from Red Lees Road, Overtown, leading up to the site which would see thousands of construction lorries driving through the village over an 18 week period as well as huge 50m wagons to put the turbines in place.
Villagers, who sent more than 200 letters of objection to the council, said the wind farm would be a blot on the landscape and be a threat to local wildlife.
But despite fierce opposition, Burnley councillors voted to allow the controversial plans and also gave the go-ahead for a temporary road to be built through fields to the wind farm site.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle called the decision “terrible” and claims fears over potential legal costs should rejected plans go to appeal may have been a factor in the cash-strapped council passing the project.
He said: “I think the residents were horrified. I thought they put forward a very good case to turn it down on the visual impact it would cause.
“The planning reason to turn it down was genuine and quite legal.
“Suddenly they (councillors) had a private meeting and they basically stabbed people in Cliviger in the back.
“When they came back and voted for it I could not believe it.”
County Coun. Margaret Brindle echoed these concerns and said the residents were ignored.
“I am very, very disappointed that the council did not listen to the residents’ concerns.
“It is a sad day for democracy and localism.
“It gives the message that any large conglomerate comes along and wants to do something like this then the sword is hanging over the head of the council all the time. It is very, very sad. This town is for the residents and the people who live here.”
Paul Gatrell, Burnley Council’s head of housing and development control, said: “This application has been dealt with in the same way as any other. Planning officers examined all the information, for and against the application, and then provided their professional advice based on planning policies. They advised elected councillors who made their decision taking fully into account the information in front of them, including the views of local residents.”
Janice McLaughlin, project director at Scottish Power Renewables, said it was a significant milestone for the Coal Clough repowering project.
She said: “We are pleased that Burnley Borough Council has approved our application to develop a new windfarm, having considered all of the relevant information as well as taking into account comments from all of the consultees.
“We are an experienced windfarm developer, and we pride ourselves on being a responsible developer. Our proposals for Coal Clough are based on years of detailed planning, and have been shaped by working closely with a range of environmental groups and by the feedback we have received following extensive consultation.”
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