A decision on a planned wind farm has been taken out of the hands of a Government planning inspector and will be made by the local government minister.
Secretary of State Eric Pickles has called in the part-heard three-week inquiry into Melton Borough Council’s refusal to allow Peel Energy to build a 10-turbine wind farm on the old Asfordby mine site.
Last week, his Department for Communities and Local Government announced communities will have earlier and better involvement in helping decide where wind farms go.
The decision by the minister has been welcomed by protesters, who raised thousands of pounds for representation by a barrister at the inquiry last month.
The inquiry’s inspector will now prepare a report for Mr Pickles to make the decision.
Jim Worley, the council’s head of regulatory services, said: “The council has been told the scheme is of such significance for the delivery of the Government’s climate change programme and energy policies that it goes beyond local issues.
“The Secretary of State very rarely involves himself personally in planning decisions.”
The inquiry was suspended on May 29 after Network Rail lodged a last-minute objection over concerns the wind farm would potentially interfere with radio signals at its nearby Old Dalby test facility and trains on the Leicester to Peterborough line. It was scheduled to resume on July 19.
Bill Musson, chairman of protest group Stop, which also flew a blimp at the height of the proposed turbines to show the effect on the landscape, said: “It is very unusual for the Secretary of State to call in an appeal part-way through the process. We think this is positive.”
Rutland and Melton MP Alan Duncan, who spoke against the wind farm at the inquiry, said: “This is an unexpected but positive development, which shows just how seriously the impact of the proposed wind farm is being taken. I hope we can now push to end this application once and for all.”
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