Planners in Cumbria have ruled a windfarm near the boundary of the Lake District national park must be dismantled when its current consent runs out.
Zephyr Investments applied to extend the life of the Kirkby Moor operation to March 2027, but South Lakeland District Council turned down the application.
Conservation groups welcomed the decision, and pointed out the original permission was granted by the Westminster Government, which overruled a planning inspector when consent was granted in 1992. The existing windfarm is due to be dismantled under that planning consent by August next year.
The Friends of the Lake District said: “While recognising the importance of renewable energy development in providing clean energy sources, membership charity Friends of the Lake District believes that these turbines have served their purpose and are now at the end of their working life.
“Throughout their 25 years’ operation, the turbines have had a significant detrimental impact on the landscape and, in particular on the setting of the Lake District national park which is now a world heritage site.”
The turbines are situated close to the southern boundary of the national park, east of Kirkby-in-Furness.
Laura Fiske, Friends’ planning officer, said: “This decision is a victory for the local communities who live in the shadow of this development imposed on them by the Government in the early 1990s. This decision reflects the tireless effort they have put in to make their voices heard.
“In terms of both landscape and wildlife, the site at Kirkby Moor which is also a site of special scientific interest, a protected area for conservation, has never been acceptable for this type of development, and the removal of these turbines will have a net benefit to the local landscape and beyond.
“Our objections to this application were on the basis of continuing harmful impacts on the landscape and on views into and out of the Lake District; the fact that the applicant has previously stated that the turbines were at the end of their working lives, and that granting permission for a time extension would set a precedent allowing other windfarms to extend beyond their 25 year lifespans.”
Zephyr Investments said council planning officers had recommended approval of the application. The company, which runs 17 UK windfarms, said the local community had benefited to the tune of more than £35,000 from the Kirkby Moor Wind Farm Community Fund. It said it planned to increase these benefits if the permission was granted.
The windfarm occupies part common land on part of Kirkby Moor Common and Lowick Common.
The Open Spaces Society also welcomed the planners’ decision. The society’s general secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “We objected because the turbines are a severe intrusion in a wild landscape, highly visible from many directions and in particular from the Lake District national park.
“Furthermore, the turbines occupy a significant area of registered common land, where the public has the right to walk and commoners have the right to graze stock. The moor is also criss-crossed with public rights of way.
“It is wonderful news that the council has rejected the plans. Now we need to make sure that every trace of the turbines is removed when the current consent expires next year, so that this magnificent common is restored to its former glory.”
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