Eden councillors have turned down planning applications for single wind turbines on two sites in the district – one at Ainstable and the other near Bowscar – which between them attracted more than 1,000 letters of objection.
Meeting at Penrith, the council’s planning committee heard there had been a high level of public opposition to the Ainstable scheme, which was submitted by farmer Russell Bowman, Castlerigg Farm, Armathwaite, who wanted to erect a turbine measuring 50m (164ft) to its hub and 77m (252ft) to its blade tip on a ridge to the south east of the village.
Planning officer Daniel Addis said there had been 895 letters of objection to the plan, and that Ainstable Parish Council, plus four neighbouring parishes, also opposed it. There were three letters of support.
Mr. Addis added that officers were recommending refusal of the application because the adverse landscape and visual impact of the turbine on the surrounding area would not be counterbalanced by its benefits.
Ted Cole, of Ainstable, who was one of a number of objectors at the meeting, said the turbine would be “overbearing and out of place”, and that bodies including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership, Friends of the Lake District and Friends of the Carlisle-Settle Railway were opposed to it.
According to Mr. Cole, the proposed turbine would put local people and visitors off using the popular “triangle walk”, which was “at the heart of all recreational routes in the area”, and damage local businesses, threatening employment.
Additionally, the noise and flicker from the rotating blades would be a problem for people living nearby, including in Ainstable itself. “It is an outrage that this large turbine could be proposed for such a sensitive site,” he said.
Mr. Bowman said the turbine would provide a number of benefits – one being the £10,000 a year which would be used to help the local community through its time in operation. This could be administered by either Ainstable Parish Council or Cumbria Community Foundation.
He also pointed out there were a number of existing vertical structures in the area, and said he could not believe people would be put off using the triangle walk by the turbine.
His preference would have been to have the turbine at Castlerigg Farm, which is some distance away from Ainstable, but the fact it was a tenanted farm made this impractical.
Henry Sawrey-Cookson (Ind All, Kirkby Thore) said £10,000 would not make up for the damage to the natural scenery from the turbine, which he described as “an industrial structure that would blight the landscape for miles around”. Grattan Bowen (Lib Dem, Penrith) said the proposed site of the turbine meant its blade tip would be 850ft above sea level and visible for many miles around, while John Thompson (Con, Penrith) said its impact on the landscape and biodiversity of the area would be “unacceptable”.
Regarding the Bowscar application, by Mr. M. Tinkler for a turbine measuring 31.4m (103ft) to hub and 46.4m (152ft) to blade tip on land at Holmland Farm, Mr. Addis said there had been 126 letters of objection, and officers were again recommending refusal.
Speaking for several people living near the site, John Kirkby, Scales, near Renwick, said the turbine would be just 640m (2,099ft) from the home of one, and the impact from noise and blade flicker on this person would be “intolerable”.
He claimed trees screening the site from a nearby road are due to be felled, which would make the turbine much more visible than claimed by the applicant, and that it would detract from “awesome views” over the Eden Valley to the Lake District fells.
Councillors agreed, with Robin Howse (Lib Dem, Penrith) saying a smaller turbine near the site of the one proposed already had a damaging impact on the landscape.
Mr. Bowen said: “The size and scale of the proposed turbine, and the cumulative impact on the landscape, mean we should refuse permission.”
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