Campaigners against a highly controversial wind turbine have been thrown a lifeline, The Whitehaven News can reveal.
The government is considering whether to “call in” plans for a wind turbine at Drigg Moorside Farm – and Copeland Council has been blocked from awarding planning permission until it does so.
If the government’s National Planning Casework Unit (NPCU) calls the matter in on behalf of Eric Pickles, the secretary of state for communities and local government, it will take the decision away from Copeland Council and make it itself.
The blocking notice was sent to Copeland on Thursday last week – the day after councillors decided by a single vote to give planning permission to the 45m-high turbine.
It is understood the NPCU will review the matter – and decide on the call-in in due course – due to the public interest and controversy the application has attracted.
There were strong objections from four parish councils, one village forum, two campaign groups and 122 individual residents, concerned about a range of issues, notably visual impact. Forty-four letters of support were sent to the council.
Mike Harrington, who objected to the plans on behalf of Ravenglass Village Forum and Muncaster Parish Council at last week’s meeting, said: “This block is really good news, and an awful lot of people will be glad to hear it.
“The councillors who voted to approve this turbine should be ashamed of themselves.”
The row over the turbine has been ongoing for over a year, since applicant Stephen Shepherd first sought permission for a 80m-high structure on his land.
Copeland Council turned down this proposal last May. Mr Shepherd appealed against the decision, but this appeal was rejected by the government’s Planning Inspectorate which backed Copeland’s original decision. This matter is now being considered by the High Court in a judicial review.
The second proposed turbine is almost half the height and 40 metres away from the previous site.
On the advice of their officers, councillors voted six to five in favour of awarding planning permission, ruling that the benefits of generating renewable energy outweigh any potential harm on the landscape. Crucially, no objection was lodged this time by the Lake District National Park Authority.
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