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Wind farm fears blown away

Relief after approval for wind farm in rural South Northamptonshire is overturned.

On Monday 22 December 2014, residents of a quiet corner of South Northamptonshire received an early Christmas present after the Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles MP, overturned his planning inspector’s recommendation and refused permission for five, 125m high wind turbines to be built on the outskirts of their community.

Although the appellant could appeal this week’s decision to the High Court, campaigners hope this is the end of a five year battle to protect their rural communities.

Councillor Rebecca Breese, portfolio holder for planning and environment, said: ““As ward representative for Greatworth I am so happy for the community that after a long and difficult argument the Secretary of State agrees with us that the harm to the local community outweighs any purported benefits of renewable energy of this type in this location.

“The wider community of Greatworth and Helmdon worked tirelessly on their own behalf and to support the Local Planning Authority and together we presented a united and persuasive argument.

“I would also like to thank the officers at South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) for their consistent support.”

Keith Jones, chairman of the Helmdon, Stuchbury and Greatworth Wind Action Group, thanked all the residents of the area who campaigned with him as well as the officers at SNC: “Obviously we are delighted, but there’s a huge amount of relief in there as well.

“It would have been five years in January since we had the first community meeting where we decided to fight this.

“So it has been a long journey. We took it to SNC and they supported us and refused permission. Then it went to a planning inspector and we come out on the wrong side of it.

“Then we had another look at it and decided that we could go forward and fight it in the High Court. We did get the result we wanted, only to have yet another inspector approve the proposals.

“Five years down the track and we now have the result that we think is the best for the area. We knew it was the wrong place to put turbines in the district.

“I’m just so glad the Secretary of State has made the right decision, he did say it was a fine balance, but he has chosen to say it is the community that comes first.”

The Secretary of State said on balance the development would have had a “major adverse effect on the local landscape”, and that the “likely harm from the proposed development would not be outweighed by the renewable energy benefits”.