Campaigners fighting to stop wind turbines being built in Rutland will step up their efforts at a public meeting today.
It comes as Rutland County Council consults the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on who should decide the planning applications for wind and solar energy farms at Woolfox Airfield, near Greetham.
If the Secretary of State chooses to consider whether the renewable energy company RES’s application gets development consent or not, the council will act as a key consultee in the process.
If not, the application will revert to the council’s development control committee for planning permission.
Applications where the capacity of renewable energy exceeds 50 megawatts are classed ‘Nationally Significant Infrastructure Proposals’ and decided by the Secretary of State’s Planning Inspectorate.
Although RES has submitted two separate applications, one for nine 130m wind turbines and another for a 67-hectare solar farm, on the same site, their combined capacity is thought to be around 63 megawatts.
Dave Brown, director for places at Rutland County Council, said councillors had voted to request direction from the Secretary of State because if the applications were processed at the local level, the decision would be open to legal challenge.
“This could lead to a significant waste of council resources and expenditure if the project is later found to require development consent rather than planning permission,” he said.
“Direction from the Secretary of State is needed to provide clarity to both the council and the local community as to the correct determination route for the applications.”
Colin Ashpole, chairman of the Woolfox Windfarm Action Group, said while he understood the county council was trying to save money, he was not sure it was the “right thing for Rutland”.
The campaigners objections include the effect the energy farm will have on tourism. They are also concerned about the size of the site which, they say, would allow RES to put more turbines in the future.
The site is close to Stretton, Clipsham and Pickworth. The campaign group fears the “massive” turbines will be seen from as far as Rutland Water and ruin the look and feel of the area classed “particularly attractive countryside”.
Mr Ashpole said: “If turbines are going to be put next to three villages with ‘considerable conservation’ status, then nowhere in Rutland is safe.”
The public meeting will be held tonight at 6.30pm in Stretton Church, and will include an exhibition “demonstrating the grounds “ for opposing the plans.
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