Neighbours hoping to stop a ‘noisy’ wind farm look set to be dealt a severe blow next week.
Barrow Borough Council is recommending the 20-year-old Askam and Ireleth wind farm remains until August 2029.
The seven turbines were granted permission limited to 20 years but its operators want it to stay another decade following a change in the law.
Last month, the council’s planning committee heard residents’ concerns about noise and postponed its decision.
But ahead of a meeting of the committee a week on Thursday, council bosses have suggested its hands are tied.
Jason Hipkiss, the council’s development services manager, will warn the committee that it could face legal action if it refuses the application.
In a report, Mr Hipkiss said the council has been advised that the application ‘should not be dealt with in the same manner as a planning application’.
“It is considered that the exercise is one of a legal rather than a planning process,” wrote Mr Hipkiss.
Cannock Wind Energy Limited has applied to ‘modify’ the 106 agreement.
It was put in place when planning permission was granted stating that it would stay for 20 years.
Changes since then allow the applicants to ‘modify’ the 106 if the applicants can demonstrate that the wind farm still ‘fulfils a useful purpose’.
In a report, Mr Hipkiss wrote: “The focus of the application is extending the life of the development for a further 10 years. The applicant has stated the ability to achieve this through suitable maintenance regimes of its equipment thus ensuring the continued generation of green energy beyond the previous 20 year lifetime.”
“The applicant has the right of appeal against any refusal. In this respect it is unlikely that a suitable defence of a refusal could be mounted, taking into account the evidence submitted and the legal advice obtained.”
Despite residents having concerns about noise, the legal advice states that this ‘should not play any part’ in the decision of the committee to extend the operational life of the wind farm, Mr Hipkiss wrote.
The turbines were branded the ‘worst in the country’ for complaints with residents Gillian Haythornthwaite and Les Nicholls complaining of the noise.
But the applicants pointed out that it has never been found to cause a ‘statutory noise nuisance’.
The planning commitee, chaired by Cllr Colin Thomson, will discuss the application at the town hall.
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