A public inquiry into plans to create England’s largest onshore wind farm on land near the Bury borough has opened.
Peel Energy and United Utilities want to add a further 16 turbines at Scout Moor, between Rochdale and Rossendale.
Planning permission was granted by both Rochdale and Rossendale councils in 2015 but the government “called in” the decision.
The hearing is expected to last until next week but a final decision is not expected until next year.
Opponents, many of whom live in Ramsbottom and Tottington, say the expansion of the wind farm will impact negatively on the natural beauty of the area.
Last autumn after the original decision was made campaigners fighting the plans said that 97 per cent of comments received by Rossendale council were objections to the wind-farm, and that national planning policy required the affected community to support the application in order for the council to approve it.
Speaking at the time Dr Falmai Binns, chair of Bury Rural Inequalities Forum, said: “We attended the planning committee, and presented strong counter-arguments on the need for community support, on the British Medical Journal’s clear concerns over health impacts of turbines, and on the empty promises for community funding by the developer.
“Evidently our pleas fell on deaf ears with councillors. We are hoping that the Secretary of State will recognise the strong feelings against these proposals in Bury and Rochdale.”
In the planning application for expansion on Scout Moor and the neighbouring Rooley Moor the document states that if all proposals are consented they will result in the largest wind farm in England.
The hearing is being held at Futures Park in Bacup.
Calling in of a planning application refers to the power of the Secretary of State to take the decision making power on a particular planning application out of the hands of the local planning authority for his own determination.
A statement on Peel Energy’s website states: “Approval of the scheme will undoubtedly provide many significant community and environmental benefits including a Moorland Restoration Plan and Community Benefit Fund for local people to spend on community projects of their choosing.
“This is in addition of course to the production of clean, renewable electricity to power the equivalent of 20,000 homes.”
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