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Communities Secretary Greg Clark blocks Stone wind turbines plan

Communities Secretary Greg Clark has blocked plans to build two 45-metre wind turbines at a Staffordshire farm.

Hallmark Power and landowner Andrew Barnett’s proposals for the turbines at Stone Bank Farm in Stone were originally blocked by Stafford Borough Council in 2013.

The applicants appealed against the refusal, but Mr Clark has upheld the decision – going against his own planning inspector’s recommendation.

Mr Clark said the concerns of residents in the nearby Aston Lodge estate had not been addressed, which outweighed any potential benefits of the scheme.

he Secretary of State announced in June that there would be new planning rules for wind farm applications, saying local people would have the ‘final say’ on decisions.

Residents living near the Pingle Lane site had complained about the visual impact of the turbines, which they said would be too close to their homes.

Planning inspector David Pinner concluded that the impact of the scheme would be ‘acceptable’, but this view was rejected by Mr Clark.

The decision notice states: “The Secretary of State is not satisfied that the planning impacts identified by affected local communities have been addressed.

“In their responses to his letter of 19 June, a number of members of the affected community repeated the concerns which they had previously expressed about the planning impacts of the scheme. These include the effects on the landscape and townscape quality. He concludes that those planning impacts as identified by the affected communities have not been addressed.

The applicants said the two 250kW turbines would produce enough electricity for 200 homes and reduce carbon emissions by 380 tons a year.

But residents opposing the plans pointed to the visual impact the turbines would have on Stone, its surrounding countryside and listed buildings such as St Michael and St Wulfad’s Church.

Newman Close resident Sally Cartwright, who was among the objectors, welcomed Mr Clark’s decision.

She said: “I’m ecstatic that he has gone against his inspector’s recommendation.

“Our main concern was always about the impact these turbines would have on our townscape in Stone. We were also worried that it could lead to more wind turbines being built in future. I’ve just noticed that two huge turbines have gone up at junction 14 on the M6, and I was scared there would be something similar here.”

But Claus Jacobsen, director at Leicestershire-based Hallmark Power, branded the decision ‘a farce’.

He said: “The Secretary of State’s considering of that one particular point was out of all proportion. He has overruled the planning inspector, who has professional knowledge and experience, and who has actually be on the site.”