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Fed-up councillors want to have final say on wind farms

East Riding Council is to press for urgent talks with the Government in a bid to secure the final say on wind farm applications.

The council has rejected nine applications for wind turbines, only to see them approved on appeal by planning inspectors.

Fed-up councillors are now seeking talks with a Government minister on the issue.

Councillor Bryan Pearson said the decision on wind farm applications should be made locally – not by the Planning Inspectorate.

He said: “It’s basically about democracy. It’s about localism.”

At an average cost of £70,000 per appeal defeat, Cllr Pearson said councillors felt “intimidated” when dealing with wind farm plans.

Cllr Pearson, who chairs a planning sub-committee, told the council: “You feel you can’t act for the people you represent because you are being intimidated by this level of costs that might come your way at appeal.

“That’s totally wrong in this day and age, when we are talking about localism.”

Councillor Symon Fraser said the authority was being “steamrollered” by the Planning Inspectorate.

He said: “We need to see a minister to look at why our decisions are being steamrollered.

“It’s about going down there and finding out what the chances are of actually getting local views taken on board on some of these decisions, which have a major impact on the East Riding landscape.

“What annoys us is the track record of turning down proposals – on what we consider to be perfectly sound, well-thought-through grounds – only to be steamrollered by the Planning Inspectorate.”

Councillor Mally Boatman said the council’s planning officers often recommended approval of wind farms because they were working within government policies.

He said: “You have to have sound planning reasons to object and move refusal of applications, the problem is we don’t have those grounds most of the time which is why we have a big bill for appeals overturned by the Planning Inspectorate.”

Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Brian Jefferies said he was “brassed off” by inspectors overturning council decisions but warned the council would have to work within the current rules.

He said: “We do have to work within the law as it is now. Let’s continue doing that – it would be daft not to.

“But I do get brassed off when we say ‘no’ and the Planning Inspectorate says ‘sorry, yes’.”

Cllr Jefferies said the latest reversal by the Planning Inspectorate – for nine 130m-high turbines at Fraisthorpe, near Bridlington – would ruin the coastline and the council could do nothing about it.

He backed the call for talks with a Government minister.

He said: “We have to sit down with someone and say, ‘this is stupid – if you want localism, then please can we have it?’

“We need to talk to them about what they said originally about giving us some power to make decisions about local things at a local level.”