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Wind farm bosses defy council

Bosses of a proposed wind farm at West Pinchbeck are defying a council request to withdraw their planning application.

Wind Ventures Ltd wants to site nine 126m high turbines at The Delph, but experts have found “major flaws” in the company’s wildlife surveys submitted in support of the planning application.

South Holland District Council’s development manager Richard Fidler wrote to the company asking it to withdraw its planning application or face a legal notice forcing it to give proper ecological data.

Natural England, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and an expert hired by the protest group, Stop West Pinchbeck Wind Farm, are among those that have highlighted flaws in the data collected by the company.

But Adrian Butler, the Wind Ventures project manager for The Delph, said the company is not withdrawing and will press ahead with its application.

He said: “At the moment, we are in the process of drafting a detailed response to the comments made by Natural England, Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, Lincolnshire Bat Group and the ecology expert for Stop West Pinchbeck Wind Farm.”

The protest group’s expert Dr Timothy Read says the company failed to comply with Natural England guidelines when it compiled its ecological data and missed out crucial information such as winter bird surveys.

Protest spokesman Tony Fear said the errors were so serious that the project could be delayed by at least a year while a proper survey is carried out.

But Mr Butler told the Spalding Guardian: “We should not have to go through another year’s worth of surveys. We believe that every effort that was put in was sufficient and agrees with the guidelines. We believe there is no need to do any additional survey work as part of this application.”

Asked if it was a question of doing another survey or the application being rejected, Mr Butler said the company would then “have to consider that”.

Mr Fear said: “This is why we say we are not celebrating too early because we expect them to put up a fight.”

He says the company’s survey failures are “a matter of fact” and experts say the council doesn’t have sufficient ecological data to determine the planning application.

South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes has raised his own objections to the turbines “standing twice the height of Nelson’s Column”.

He says the turbines will be close to two Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Nature Reserves, one of which – Willow Tree Fen – is linked to the last remnants of wild wetland fens in the county. The MP says the district and county councils ploughed £500,000 into the reserve and almost £2million has been spent there in the last three years.

Mr Hayes said: “I believe that this proposal will have a detrimental impact on local wildlife habitats of birds, bats and other forms of wildlife, which reportedly include those of weasels, stoats, newts and other species.”

But he’s also concerned about the human cost as the cluster of turbines would leave only 2.58 miles of “clear skyline” between them and the turbines at Deeping St Nicholas – and a further four turbines have been given consent between the two sites.

He cites the experience of wind farm victims of Julian and Jane Davies who had to quit their home because of noise nuisance from the Deeping St Nicholas turbines – and points out that turbines are extremely inefficient and costly.