Campaigners have won their three-year battle against a nine turbine windfarm at Asfordby.
The news broke yesterday when it was announced that Communities Secretary Eric Pickles had refused an appeal by Peel Energy after ‘calling in’ the decision.
The only avenue left open to Peel would be to challenge the validity of the Secretary of State’s decision in the High Court, but campaigners hope this really is the end of the matter.
Pressure group STOP (Stop Turbines Oppose Peel), local parish councils and MP Alan Duncan were jubilant.
Bill Musson, of Wartnaby, for STOP, said: “This is the right decision and we are delighted. We wish to thank all the residents who supported us. We were the underdogs throughout but fought hard and won.”
Rutland and Melton MP Alan Duncan, who spoke at last year’s public inquiry and lobbied the Secretary of State, said: “This was a windfarm that no-one wanted.
“The campaigners have 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.”
Sir David Sykes, chairman of Ab Kettleby Parish Council, added: “This is fantastic news and a shot in the arm for democracy and common sense. Well done to everyone and in particular STOP for its very hard work.”
Peel Energy first unveiled its proposals for the turbines, up to 125m high on land between Asfordby Hill and Ab Kettleby, in November 2010.
Melton Council refused planning permission in July 2012, going against the recommendation of its own planning officer, and the matter went to an appeal held last year. The planning inspector also recommended approval subject to conditions.
Jonathan England, Peel Energy Development Director, said: “We are disappointed and surprised at the Secretary of State’s decision and will now consider our options before making a decision about how to proceed.”
Peel said the windfarm would have had an operational life of at least 25 years and provided enough electricity to meet the average needs of more than 8,500 homes.
In reaching his decision Mr Pickles said the main issues were around the area’s heritage assets and in particular the Grade II listed St Bartholomew’s Church at Welby – just 400m from the nearest turbine – and the ‘significant impact on landscape character’ the scheme would have.
He added that, in his view, the ‘visual change would be large and the windfarm would dominate views of walkers and riders’.
In terms of residential amenity, Mr Pickles said shadow flicker could also be an issue, particularly for the 276 properties that would be located within 1km of the nearest turbine.
He concluded: “The harm clearly outweighs the need for the proposal and its wider economic benefits.”
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