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Minister Eric Pickles rejects wind farm scheme near Melton

A controversial wind farm planned for a former mine near Melton has been kicked out by the Local Government Minister Eric Pickles.

The minister had taken the decision on the 10-turbine Asfordby wind farm out of the hands of a planning inspector in June, after his department announced communities would have earlier and better involvement in deciding where wind farms go.

Mr Pickles said the wind farm could not go ahead on the grounds that it would spoil the look of the surrounding area.

His decision delighted local residents who raised £20,000 to fight the plan, by Peel Energy.

The planning inquiry was launched after Melton Borough Council refused Peel Energy’s application, and the company appealed.

Rutland and Melton MP Alan Duncan, who spoke against the wind farm at the inquiry, said yesterday: “This should be the final nail in the coffin for this unwanted application.

“I have been lobbying the Secretary of State non-stop over the past few months to reject the wind farm, and am delighted that he has agreed.

“At every stage, I have been banging away, first to the council and then to the public inquiry, that this was a wind farm that no-one wanted.

“The campaigners at Asfordby have also shown phenomenal dedication in challenging this application every step of the way.

“It has been a long, drawn out process but localism has ultimately won the day.”

Bill Musson is spokesman for the campaign group Stop, set up to fight the proposed wind farm.

He said: “We are very, very pleased – it’s really just sinking in. We’re very pleased that after such a long campaign fighting it, almost four years, that finally the right conclusion has been reached.

“What’s important is the fact that the local voice has been listened to.

“At Stop, we just want to thank all those who supported us throughout the campaign.

“We raised £20,000 to fight the appeal so it’s not been an easy road, with £15,000 raised in six weeks.

“The support of local people was phenomenal and it showed the strength of feeling against the wind farm.

“So many homes would have been so close to it – 300 within one kilometre.”

David Sykes, chairman of Ab Kettleby Parish Council, said the news that the plan had been thrown out was “absolutely fabulous”.

He said: “I’m delighted that Eric Pickles stood by what he said and turned decision-making over to local people, and I am also delighted Alan Duncan stuck his nose in and got involved.”

Mr Pickles refused the application because the “substantial harm” the wind farm would cause to the setting of St Bartholomew’s Church and the wider landscape outweighed the need for and benefits of the application.

Jonathan England, Peel Energy’s development director, said: “We are disappointed and surprised about the Secretary of State’s decision and we will now consider our options before making a decision about how to proceed.”

The company said the wind farm would be designed to have an operational life of at least 25 years and would provide enough electricity to meet the average needs of more than 8,500 homes – 33 per cent of the households in Melton.