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Allerdale council ‘must take control over turbines’ says report

Allerdale council should take control over wind power, councillors will hear today.

A review of the issue will be debated by the full council following concerns about the way the planning service was operating.

A Planning Improvement Peer Challenge report has recommended a shake up of planning including cutting the membership of the planning committee and that a planning policy working group should be set up.

Kevin Kerrigan, head of development services, said that Allerdale was “one of the windiest places on mainland UK” and a hot spot for windfarms and turbines in the county.

Since 2009, 112 applications have been received, often generating “large opposition”.

“Wind power must become a corporate issue and not just be seen as a reactionary, regulatory role for planers and councillors on development panel,” he said. “We recommend that the council take stronger corporate control over renewable energy and especially wind power and be more proactive in its community leadership role.

“It should grasp opportunities to examine the council’s brownfield assets and seize opportunities for selling wind generation power to support council priorities. While some objectors or commentators might say this is not a suitable role for the council, it is surely a far better strategy to being picked off at appeal and losing costs.”

The report said a recent allegation about a planning officer working too closely with a developer but concluded “there were no grounds for believing this”.

“We did feel lessons could be learned in how emails were phrased to remove any doubt or ambiguity,” he added. Issues raised last year included the way development panel meetings were conducted, including the way members interacted with the public. Concerns were then raised by some councillors about alleged collusion between a planning officer and a developer. The full council will debate the issue tomorrow night at Hundith Hill in Cockermouth.