The Barrow MP has waded into the debate on the future of Kirkby Windfarm.
An inquiry into the future of the controversial site began last Tuesday and should conclude today (Wednesday) – although a decision is not expected to be known immediately.
While John Woodcock could not attend the appeal in person as he was in Westminster in preparation for the the crucial Brexit vote, he did submit a letter which summarised his stance on the future of the windfarm.
In the letter, Mr Woodcock said: “I was not in the least surprised to hear that many of the rural parishes of my Barrow and Furness consistency were deeply disappointed that Zephyr Investments had appealed the democratically achieved decision of South Lakeland District Council.
“It is clear that among the parishes surrounding Kirkby Moor that the vast majority of residents do not consent to the plans of Zephyr Investments.
“I am concerned that the appeal by Zephyr Investments has not respected the views of the local residents.
“The vast majority of the constituents that have been, are being and may be affected by Kirkby Moor windfarm are unequivocal in not giving their backing to Zephyr’s plans.
“I wish you to know that I stand in support of the Rule 6 Group Kirkby Moor Protectors and respectfully ask that, as the plans before you are in no way consented by the local parishes which surround Kirkby Moor windfarm, that you dismiss this appeal.”
The inquiry is looking in to the decision made by SLDC’s planning committee in 2017 not to extend the lifespan of the windfarm until 2027.
Six councillors to five voted to block the proposal, siding with the wider community in what had become a bitterly divisive issue.
Zephyr Investments announced they would appeal the decision in June 2018.
Mr Woodcock’s submission has formed part of the argument by SLDC and a number of local residents against the appeal on the basis that there was no consent from the public and the local community for the continuation of the windfarm.
Those in opposition also focused on the harm caused to the surrounding area, according to an environmental impact study.
They dismissed the claims of more jobs being created at the windfarms as only a short term benefit which would not compensate for the long term detriment to residents and the area.
Kirkby Moor Protectors, a local organisation supporting the council, highlighted the offshore windfarm already present off the coast of Walney, which supplies energy for far more homes than Kirkby Moor.
Representatives from Zephyr Investment claimed the need for renewable energy generation in today’s society is greater than ever before, and while Kirkby Moor Wind Farm was seen as experimental when first introduced, any future extension should consider this new demand.
They have also questioned why the operation should be brought to an end since ‘Kirkby Moor Wind Farm has operated well and without issue for the last 25 years.’
They argued Kirkby Moor windfarms contribution to the low carbon economy should not be de-valued because of its small scale.
All those involved in the inquiry will gather today for the final day of the hearing.
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