Campaigners who fought plans for a wind farm say they feel “very let down” after a Government inspector ruled planning permission should be granted.
TCI Renewables has been given the green light to put up three 125-metre turbines north west of Church Farm, Rectory Lane, Southoe.
The application for Common Barn Wind Farm was the subject of an appeal hearing in March after Huntingdonshire District Council failed to make a decision within eight weeks.
Planning inspector Erin Lindell, whose decision was published on Thursday (July 11), opted in favour of the turbines despite opposition from the vast majority of Southoe residents, eight parish councils and hundreds of comments opposing the plans. Members of HDC’s development management panel also voted unanimously against the wind farm, provisionally giving four reasons.
But when it came to the hearing, HDC fought it on one issue – the proximity of one of the turbines to a bridleway.
Ian Davies, a member of the Stop Common Barn Wind Farm Action Group, which spent £40,000 on fighting the plans, said HDC’s planning committee had demonstrated “total ineptitude”.
“They decided to fight on four points and we knew three of those would be resolved before the appeal,” he said. “Their (HDC’s) barrister walked in on the first morning of the appeal and said ‘You will not be hearing a great deal from our side’.
“Had it been left up to HDC it would have been approved before the appeal. We feel very let down.”
It had been suggested, he added, that if opponents could withhold their Council Tax, they should, given how they had been treated.
The action group had been given hope in June by an announcement from Eric Pickles MP, said Mr Davies. In a statement, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government said local people should have more of a say on where onshore wind farms were sited.
Mr Davies said: “It all seemed to fit in nicely. This was going to be a test case for what Eric Pickles said and it’s as though the inspector has ignored it.”
Concerns about the safety of accessing the site via the A1 were raised at the appeal but the Highways Agency had decided it was acceptable, as long as lane closures and a temporary reduced speed limit were put in place.
In reaching her conclusion, the inspector noted HDC had concerns with “only a single issue”. She acknowledged that there would be “some inconvenience placed upon horse riders using public rights of way” but the need to address climate change and find a reliable supply of electricity outweighed “moderate levels of harm to landscape and visual amenity”.
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