A decision to allow the Kirkby Moor wind farm to remain in place for eight more years has set a ‘national precedent,’ a meeting heard.
In July, planning inspector Phillip Ware upheld an appeal by the operators of the 1993 development to keep it going until 2027.
That ruling overturned an earlier decision by South Lakeland District Council’s planning committee to reject the bid.
Wind energy companies could now use the decision to keep turbines in place longer than originally given permission for, councillors heard.
Michael Hoar, a planning officer, said: “In the same way Kirkby Moor was one of the first wind farms in the UK to be brought online, this is the first appeal that has related to the retention of such a farm. As such, this decision does set an interesting precedent.
“The long and short of it is, the inspector accepted the wind farm industry definition that a time extension is a form of repowering. I think that’s an interesting interpretation.”
Zephyr Investments Ltd, under the name Ventient Energy, challenged SLDC’s decision at a public inquiry in Ulverston backed by Green campaigners. Objectors included Kirkby Moor Protectors, supported by local councillors, MPs, and the Friends of the Lake District.
Mr Hoar said the ruling hinged on a technicality in the 2019 National Planning Policy Framework. The rules stated wind farms could not be allowed unless they had the backing of the local community. However, there was a caveat in the policy that it did not apply to the ‘repowering of existing wind farms’.
Mr Hoar said: “Obviously a lot of people will say repowering could involve taking off the old turbine, putting on a new set of blades and a new generator – that’s repowering. But by simply taking an existing wind farm, making no changes to it physically or in any other way, is that repowering?”
Cllr Janette Jenkinson said: “This has set a precedent for all those wind farms we have given permission for since then.”
Kirkby Moor Protectors are said to be considering a judicial review.
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