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Controversial turbine will go ahead

A controversial wind turbine WILL be built in Drigg – after the government ruled against taking the decision-making power away from Copeland Council.

Borough councillors awarded planning permission to the 45m-high turbine at Drigg Moorside Farm three weeks ago, but the decision was immediately put on hold by the government’s National Planning Casework Unit (NPCU) while it decided whether or not to take the decision itself.

It was understood that the NPCU became involved due to the public interest and controversy the application has attracted.

However, the NPCU informed Copeland on Tuesday that it will not call the matter in and the council’s decision – by a single vote – to allow planning permission stands.

There were strong objections to the application 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.

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 turbine is almost half the height and 40 metres away from the previous site. In awarding planning permission, Copeland said that, crucially, the Lake District National Park Authority did not object, as it had on the first occasion.

The government has announced a switch in emphasis that will give local people greater powers to block turbines in their neighbourhoods. See The Whitehaven News for the full story.