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Co-partner United Utilities pulls out of Scout Moor expansion

One of the partners behind plans to expand the Scout Moor wind farm has pulled out of the scheme – as it was revealed a final decision on whether it can go ahead will not be made for at least eight months.

United Utilities (UU) say they have dropped out of the joint venture with Peel Energy which would see the number of wind turbines increased from 26 to 42.

The Planning Inspectorate has confirmed that a public inquiry into the proposal will open in October, and will last for around two weeks.

Both Rossendale and Rochdale councils approved the expansion last year, only for the Department of Communities and Local Government to call it in for review last November .

United Utilities say its withdrawal has been influenced by a reduction in government incentives.

Sean Robinson, from UU, said: “We’ve always said the wind farm was an opportunity to restore years of damaged peat and improve water quality for generations to come.

“The recent reductions announced by government to incentives for onshore wind means we can no longer justify our part of the investment.’

Jonathan England, development director at Peel Energy, said they will be continuing to ‘advance’ the scheme and will be appearing at inquiry.

If the Secretary of State overturns the approval of the application, Rossendale council could be set to lose out on £600,000 per year in business rates income, a loss described as ‘catastrophic’ in a financial monitoring report last year.

A Rossendale council spokesman said: “The value to Council is over £600,000 per annum being a combination of business rates and land rent income with a total value in excess of £18million over the life of the project.

“Our revised Financial forecast has now assumed a delay of 2 years at a cost of £1.2m to Council resources. Should the approval be overturned the Council’s financial deficit will increase from the current forecast of £500,000 per annum to £1.1million pa.

“There is the potential for around £5m of community funding opportunities attached to this windfarm application.”

Rossendale MP Jake Berry said: “I am continuing to support my constituents who are concerned about this proposal and have provided the Planning Inspectorate with the relevant information collected.”