Tourism in Copeland could be hit by the “blight’’ of windfarms, a public inquiry heard.
Objectors spoke passionately against the “significant impact on the landscape’’ if proposals go ahead for a windfarm of six 115m high turbines at Weddicar.
During the fifth day of the inquiry, John Vort, of Arlecdon, said the plans would “drive away tourism’’ as “people choose not to visit areas blighted by windfarms’’.
He said the proposed site of the windfarm was in a “recreational area’’ which currently had many walkers and horse riders.
Mr Vort said he had spoken to many tourism businesses who were worried about the effect the windfarm would have on their B&Bs, hotels and pubs.
The current view across the proposed site was “unblemished, offering beautiful sunsets,’’ he added. These would “cease” if the plans went ahead.
Other objectors who spoke out against the plans were Norma Lockhart, of Moresby Parks, who called the current views near her home “spiritual’’, and Roger Pearson, also of Moresby Parks, who was concerned about the height and density of the turbines. He said the turbines would be a “barrier’’ to views of the nearby fells.
There were also claims made by objectors that the photo-montages used by Banks Renewables to highlight their turbine plans were “inaccurate and misleading’’.
Planning inspector Robert Mellor, who is hearing the evidence, will visit the area on Monday before the inquiry finishes on Tuesday.
The plans which attracted 662 letters of objection, and 124 in support, were twice turned down by Copeland’s planning panel – a decision that went against officers’ recommendations.
The inspector said he would consider two main issues – what effect the windfarm would have on the character and visual amenity of the landscape and whether any identified harm may be outweighed by any economic or environmental benefits of renewable energy production.
Banks Renewables say the Weddicar Rigg windfarm would have a generation capacity of up to 12MW, an important contribution to national carbon reduction commitments.
The company is also offering a programme of habitat management and of local community benefit with £3.5m available to local construction companies, the creation of between 25 and 30 jobs, an apprenticeship scheme with Lakes College and a £30,000 donation each year to a community fund.