November 13, 2015

Wind turbines saga may finally be over after three-and-a-half year battle

Melton Times | 12 November 2105 |

A long-running saga over controversial plans to install two wind turbines in Thorpe Satchville may finally be over after a three-and-a-half year battle.

The Secretary of State has refused planning permission for the 77-metre high turbine at Park Farm and a 46m high turbine at Hall Farm, superseding previous decisions on both schemes.

Melton Council had originally turned down both applications, in 2012, on grounds that the turbines would, due to their height position and movement, introduce a new element into the landscape which would be widely visible.

But both schemes went to appeal and, in 2013, after considering the perceived adverse impacts as well as the benefits of the applications, planning inspector Wendy Burden gave them the go-ahead.

But those decisions were later quashed by the High Court, with the schemes reverting back to the appeal stage.

The appeals were subsequently called in by the Secretary of State to decide on them himself, having received an inspector’s report.

Earlier this year the Government announced new measures giving local people the final say on wind turbine proposals and setting out new considerations for local planning authorities to apply to proposed wind energy developments.

A letter sent on behalf of the Secretary of State to Park Farm turbine appellant Hazel Tolton said: “The scale and prominence of the turbine would case harm. It would reveal its blades above the skyline and would be seen from the important viewing point of Burrough Hill.

“In addition, if both the Park Farm and Hall Farm developments were allowed, the close proximity of the turbines and their disparate scale and speeds of rotation would be harmful, experienced both close to their sites and in views where they’re seen near together. There would also be cumulative visual harm with other turbines in the vicinity.”

The letter added: “Although the Park Farm turbine would produce 500KW of electricity, the harm arising from the turbine would be of a critical nature. In addition I’m not satisfied the planning impacts identified by affected local communities, which include harm to the landscape and visual impacts, have been addressed.”

In respect of the proposed Hall Farm turbine, in a separate letter to appellant professor Gary England, the Secretary of State said: “This turbine is easily visible from Burrough Hill alongside a number of other turbines dispersed across the panorama. From significant viewpoints the turbine would be seen above the horizon.

“Further, if the Park Farm turbine were to be allowed, overall there would be some cumulative visual harm arising from the two turbines together. While I accept the visual harm caused by the Hall Farm turbine would be less than the Park Farm turbine, I nevertheless consider there would be moderate harm to the fabric of the landscape which would remain for a significant period of time.

“Having weighed up all considerations I conclude the factors which weigh in favour of the proposed development do not outweigh its shortcomings and there are no material considerations of sufficient weight which would justify granting planning permission.”

Melton MP the Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan and Melton borough councillor for the Somerby ward Leigh Higgins are among those who have voiced their strong opposition to the wind turbine proposals and both welcomed the Secretary of State’s decision.

Sir Alan said: “I’m delighted the Secretary of State has dismissed these appeals, as I urged him to do. I’ve been fighting against these turbines with local residents and ward councillor Leigh Higgins for years now, and finally we have some good news.

“We will wait to see if there’s a final challenge to the decision in the courts, but hopefully this marks the end of the road for this unwanted application. What’s clear is that the one turbine that has already been improperly erected must now come down.”

Mr Higgins added: “I fully welcome the Secretary of State’s decision. It has always been clear that these industrial sized turbines were unwanted and failed to address local concerns. It would have impacted upon local residents’ living amenities along with local landscape and heritage assets.

“I’d like to pay immense tribute to the local residents for their conduct, patience and putting together a model campaign. It is a testament of how working together can ensure communities are heard at the very top. It has been privilege over the years to play a part in that process and get the right decision.”

Should the appellants wish to challenge the Secretary of State’s decision they now have six weeks to apply to the High Court.

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