Controversial plans to expand Scout Moor wind farm have been approved by council planners.
The decision, made by Rossendale council’s development control committee on Tuesday night, means that a further 16 wind turbines – mostly measuring 115 metres in height – are set to be added to the existing 26-turbine wind farm between Rossendale and Rochdale.
The scheme, proposed by Scout Moor Wind Farm Expansion Ltd, will generate power for around 22,500 homes and bring in more than £11 million to the local economy.
The council had received 125 objections from residents in Rossendale, Rochdale and Bury and two petitions totalling more than 200 signatures, as well as 51 letters of support.
The Ministry of Justice claimed the turbines would have an ‘unacceptable impact’ on Air Traffic Control radar at Warton Airfield.
Objections were also raised by the Campaign for Rural England, the Edenfield Village Residents Association, Holcombe Society, Rossendale Harriers and Rossendale Ramblers.
However, members of the planning committee voted five to two in favour of the scheme, which will also see 353 hectares of moorland habitat restored.
Bacup councillor Jimmy Eaton had proposed to reject the plans on the grounds of impact on visual amenity, but was defeated.
Speaking at the meeting, town planner Tom Whitehead said ‘only three per cent’ of people supported the scheme once the 1,300 signatures from MP Jake Berry’s ‘Not In Our Hills’ campaign were included.
He said: “There can be no doubt that the affected communities don’t want this.”
Stuart Davis, a resident and business owner in Whitworth, said: “It is deeply saddening to witness the destruction and devastation of Rossendale’s jewel in the crown.”
Jonathan England, development director at Peel Energy, said they have corresponded with more than 200 interest groups, posted 11,000 leaflets and attended 21 consultation events.
He told the meeting that they have ‘listened to those views’ and ‘substantially reduced the scale’ of the expansion from 26 to 16 turbines and ‘feel we have got the balance right’.
Mr England confirmed that new local jobs will be created and a community benefit fund set up providing up to £200,000 each year for local community projects.
The council’s decision will now be sent to the government who will now decide whether to ‘call it in’ for scrutiny.
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