Campaigners against Cumbrian windfarm lose battle
Credit: By Maureen Hodges | News & Star | 30 August 2014 | www.newsandstar.co.uk ~~
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Campaigners have lost their battle against plans for a windfarm with turbines more 400ft tall.
Despite a raft of objections, councillors gave the green light to an energy firm’s proposals to erect nine 413ft turbines – each three times the height of Carlisle Civic Centre – at Beck Burn Peat Works between Longtown and Gretna.
It is the latest chapter in a four-year fight to prevent the proposal by EDF Renewables from going ahead.
Members of Carlisle City Council’s development control committee yesterday approved the scheme by seven votes to four, with one abstention.
The proposal was initially refused planning permission because the Ministry of Defence (MoD) objected.
It argued that vibrations from the turbines would interfere with equipment at Eskdalemuir, near Langholm, which the MoD uses to monitor nuclear tests around the world.
Defence chiefs are not now objecting because of new information about the effect of turbines on the work at Eskdalemuir..
The approved plans are an updated version of a previous submission, which was turned down last year.
The council had received 41 letters of objection to the scheme, among the tallest in the UK.
Among them was neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway Council, which was against the proposal on the grounds of “negative visual impact”.
The main concerns centred around the landscape, with residents questioning the impact such a development would have on the surrounding area – particularly Hadrian’s Wall.
Other protesters claimed the turbines “would be out of scale with the local topography” and that there was “already a proliferation of turbines in the area”.
At the council meeting, objector David Wilson, a farmer and member of the Springfield and Gretna Community Council, described the turbines as being a “blight on the landscape”.
He said: “We need protection from these monstrosities. The height of them is unacceptable. There is also an issue of the dangers to human health. People living in the vicinity of windfarms are known to suffer from headaches and their balance has been affected,” said Mr Wilson.
He also claimed that the turbines would be a hazard to birds including thousands of geese on the Solway.
But the energy firm have already agreed to install a goose refuge and habitat management plan.
Tony Scorer, for EDF, said Natural England and the RSPB had not objected to the Solway Moss plans.
He added that the Government has investigated the health of people living near windfarms and concluded that there is no impact.
According to the energy firm, the turbines would provide electricity to around 10,000 households for 25 years.
They have also agreed to establish a community fund, guaranteeing a minimum of £90,000 per year for the life of the scheme.
Councillor John Mallinson said he believed the company was genuine over their intent to establish such a fund.
“However, what I am concerned with is the promise to restore the peat moss to its original state once the turbines are scrapped,” said Mrs Mallinson.
“There will be thousands of tonnes of steel and concrete buried in that moss, and we don’t want anything to be left behind when the turbines are dismantled,” he added.
Longtown councillor Ray Bloxham, who proposed a motion for refusal of the scheme, said he would like to see a fund put aside now for the restoration of the site.
He said: “An awful lot can happen in 25 years. What kind of legacy will we be leaving our children?”
“This scheme is going to dominate and will overpower everything around it. Make no bones about that,” he added. He also pointed out the disruption a scheme of this size would cause to the local community.
“The blades of these turbines will have to be taken to the site on whacking big lorries at night-time. Some of the roads will have to be widened, and hedges removed to accommodate them,” added Mr Bloxham.
Councillor Heather Bradley moved the council should approve the scheme on the grounds that no objections had been received from major bodies, such as English Heritage.
“We have already had a full investigation into this scheme via a public inquiry. Any grounds for refusal have been removed and we would find it very difficult to refuse the application now,” she said.
The scheme was approved, subject to certain conditions, including a full restoration scheme for the peat moss.
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