Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has slammed the decision to allow three wind turbines to be built on the outskirts of the Ribble Valley.
Plans for the 46m-high structures at Carr Hall Home and Garden Centre at Wilpshire, which had originally been rejected by Ribble Valley Borough Council, have subsequently been allowed by the Planning Inspector on appeal.
“I think that this is an outrageous decision,” said Mr Evans.
“The application was rejected by the council on legitimate grounds and the application had received 360 letters of objection to it.
“Just last month the Energy Minister, Greg Barker MP, said in reference to wind turbines that: ‘We put certain projects in the wrong place……Some planners have been too insensitive to the impact on the landscape…..There’s enough wind projects in the system now so we don’t need to see any more on-shore expansion. The big area for expansion is off-shore, where there is scope for larger projects’.
“I would say that is a definitive explanation of current Government thinking by the minister. That thinking has been willfully ignored by the inspector,” added Mr Evans.
“This is an example of a complete dereliction of democracy where the views of local residents, the elected councillors and MP and the Government minister have been inexplicably ridden roughshod over.
“I will be writing to the Secretary of State to put on record how unhappy both I and the people of the Ribble Valley are with this decision.”
Applicant Andrew Donelan, from the Whalley Road centre, appealed the decision and planning permission was granted by the Planning Inspector subject to conditions.
Inspector Anthony Thickett said the turbines’ impact on the surrounding environment would be “limited”.
“I have assessed the planning concerns of the local community and find the only harm to be the inappropriate nature of the development in the Green Belt. The three turbines would be slim features and their impact on openness would be limited,” he said.
Mr Thickett added that there would have to be “very special circumstances necessary to justify the development in the Green Belt” and found that the plans would help the centre achieve its “low carbon future”.
“I heard that the existing electricity connection at Carr Hall Garden Centre is of insufficient capacity to serve all the equipment required to run the business,” explained Mr Thickett. “Further, that reliance on diesel generators has had an adverse impact on the business due to the seemingly ever increasing cost of fuel and the inability to offer potential franchises a reliable supply of electricity.
“The proposal would facilitate a three phase connection and, in addition to providing some renewable energy to the grid, would help secure and create local employment.”
It is estimated that 600,000 kilowatt hours of energy will be generated by the 50 kilowatt turbines each year. This is enough to power 120 homes.