August 15, 2013

Council wants to switch allegiance

Written by Leslie Jackson | Leek Post & Times | 15 August 2013 |

A parish council in the Staffordshire Moorlands wants to become part of the Peak District National Park to prevent the spread of wind turbines in its area.

At present Staffordshire Moorlands District Council has no overall policy on the location of wind turbines – unlike the Peak District National Park, which has set rules governing their construction.

This has prompted Ipstones Parish Council members to call for the authority to come under the National Park’s planning regime.

At the last meeting of the council, a letter was received from Mike Green, planning application manager for Staffordshire Moorlands District Council after the parish council had requested a copy of the district council’s policy on wind turbines.

Mr Green said: “The council’s policy – the not yet adopted Core Strategy – reflects the national position that renewable development is supportable in principle.

“Nationally we are told by Government that the need, location, type and amount generated, even small amounts, cannot be questioned and we all have a part to play in renewable energy generation.

“However, there may be other material considerations that could override this support in principle, and often it is landscape impact and ecology that causes applications to be refused.

“Our approach thus is to deal with each application on its merits.

“There is no policy at the Moorlands council that identifies areas where turbines will or will not be supported and I do not expect that there will.”

Councillor John Barks told members: “On one side of Morridge two turbines have been put up, but on the Peak Park side there are none. If these had been in the Peak Park the answer would have been no.”

Councillor Linda Malyon said there had been no mention of health issues regarding the turbines as it seemed to be all about the Government saying it wanted the energy.

Mrs Malyon said: “This is a big white elephant. We could apply to the Peak Park to make inquiries to see if the boundary could be extended a little bit to enable us to become part of the authority.”

Councillor John Barks said: “The people who are making these decisions do not have them in their back garden. Most of the Moorlands officers do not live in the Staffordshire Moorlands.”

Jim Dixon, chief executive of the Peak District National Park Authority, told the Post & Times: “Firstly, if there was a case to change the boundary of the National Park there is a statutory process led by Defra that would need to be followed.

“This is a complex procedure that could take many years and which relies on Natural England – a Government Agency – starting a technical review based around landscape quality. They would then have to decide whether to recommend this course of action to the Defra Secretary of State.

“After further work and consultation and a public inquiry, he can recommend this and the order is passed. Frankly, there is little realistic prospect of this happening. The National Park Authority itself would be consulted but it would not be up to us to decide.

“However, we would hope that areas and villages of high landscape and built heritage value that make up the ‘setting’ of the National Park – closely linked or nearby – would seek recognition within the planning policies of their own local authority equivalent to that of the National Park.

“They could do this through their own Neighbourhood Plan. Officers from the National Park and district council can advise on how to do this and provide practical support.”

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