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Kirkby windfarm firm wins appeal following public inquiry

A controversial windfarm has been given the green light following a public inquiry.

In December 2017 South Lakeland District Council rejected Ventient Energy’s planning application to extend the lifespan of the Kirkby Moor windfarm.

Ventient then appealed and in January this year a Planning Inspectorate public inquiry took place at the Coronation Hall in Ulverston.

The planning inspectorate has now revealed the appeal has been successful and has overturned the council’s original decision.

Campaigners against the windfarm have described the inquiry’s outcome as a ‘defeat for localism’.

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, said the organisation was ‘dismayed’.

Ventient now has permission to continue to operate the windfarm until 2027.

The firm’s chief executive Mark Jones said he was delighted with the decision.

“This decision echoes the original recommendation of the planning officer and will mean that the windfarm will have permission to continue to deliver clean, green energy for a further eight years,” he said.

“We’d like to take this moment to state how grateful we are to the many people in the local community who supported the appeal; whose voices have played an important part in this positive outcome.

“This decision will see public benefits flow from the development including restoration of parts of the moorland and an enhanced decommissioning, reinstatement and restoration scheme once the life extension period comes to an end and the turbines have been removed.

“Furthermore, the existing community fund will be increased, from £3,555 per year to £24,000 per year in order to bring it in line with current industry best practice guidelines.”

In a statement Kirkby Moor Protectors, who were against the windfarm, said: “This is a decision that appears to ignore a major part of modern local planning guidance that states that any plans for windfarms must have the backing of the local community.

“The inspector has ridden rough-shod over the views of the 15 parish councillors, South Lakeland District Council, county councillors and the constituency MP who objected to the plans.

“If we had known that the inspector was going to ignore our views in his judgement we wouldn’t have bothered making our case.

“This is a defeat for localism and a victory for the banks who own the windfarm and the landed gentry who own the land.

“It’s hard to believe that the inspector believes that the minuscule amount of power generated by obsolete turbines is more significant than the significant amount of damage they do to the landscape of the Lake District.

“This is also a kick in the teeth for Cumbria Tourism who were keen to increase visitor numbers in Furness.”

Ms Ashbrook said: “The wind turbines are less than a kilometre from the Lake District National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“This is a treasured landscape and we believe that it is severely degraded by the presence of the turbines.”

Barrow and Furness independent MP John Woodcock said: “This ruling will be met with disappointment by everyone who has campaigned for South Lakeland District Council’s decision to be upheld.

“Objectors have included 15 parish councils, county councillors, local councillors, Cumbria Tourism, Friends of the Lake District and the Federation of Small Businesses to name a few.

“We had hoped that the value of landscapes and the communities that inhabit them may start to take precedence over the outmoded subsidiary policy for onshore windfarms.”