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Planned windfarm would destroy my life, claims widower

A widower has told how wind turbines taller than Big Ben would “destroy” his life.

Michael Lonican, of Branthwaite near Workington, lives just 700m from former coal mine Potato Pot where London-based Airvolution wants to erect three 328ft wind turbines.

The 69-year-old, of Lostrigg Cottage, was too upset to give evidence on the first day of the planning inquiry at Workington yesterday.

He told the News & Star the development would “destroy my life”.

“I don’t think I could stand living there,” he said.

His wife Christine died several years ago but they used to sit together by the beck.

“She said it was like a little bit of heaven. This will destroy that thought.”

The inquiry was called following an appeal by Airvolution Energy after Allerdale Council failed to determine the application within the agreed time frame. Mr Lonican watched the proceedings but admitted that giving evidence himself would prove too much. “I would break down,” he said.

The planning inspector, John Braithwaite, who will make the final decision, had to call for quiet twice as angry residents tried to interject.

Among the most vocal was Robert Gate, 63, a farmer from Branthwaite.

Speaking during a break in proceedings, he said: “The nearness is my main objection. It would be unacceptable to live beside them or sit out in our gardens with the constant whirling and noise. I live and work on the land.”

Nicky Cockburn, an Allerdale councillor for Broughton St Bridget, said Airvolution’s ornithological and cumulative impact survey did not show the full impact of the turbines.

She added that Airvolution had failed to include 34 other turbines in its assessment.

Mrs Cockburn was also concerned about the effect on bird life although there has been no objection from the RSPB.

Jonathan King, who gave expert landscape evidence, said the effect of the development on nearby properties would be “substantial” and “adverse”, particularly for those living at Gilgarran.

The inquiry is due to hear from residents and anti-wind farm protestors today, including Marion Fitzgerald of FORCE.

Allerdale Council has received 19 objections, including one from the county council. It has not had any letters of support.

The development would be visible from Gilgarran, Winscales, Pica, Distington, High Harrington, Ullock and Dean.

It would also be seen from Workington, Lamplugh, Lowca, Deanscales and Greysouthen, and from parts of the Lake District.

Residents in Lamplugh Road, Branthwaite, have objected on the grounds that “the scale of the turbines would be overwhelming and will dominate the landscape to an unacceptable degree.”

Meanwhile, another company, FCC Environment wants to erect four 324ft (99m) turbines close by on a landfill site at Lillyhall.

But David Hardy, representing Airvolution, said it was not right to refuse the scheme on the basis of something that might never happen.

A spokeswoman for Airvolution has previously said the project would generate green electricity for 25 years. It would meet the needs of 3,800 homes.