There have been no fresh applications for wind turbines submitted to Allerdale Borough Council so far this year. The reasons for this are likely to be as follows:
1. A stronger Local Plan with better protection for landscape and residents against inappropriate renewable energy development
2. Last year’s Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) which confirmed that wind energy developments should not go ahead when local concerns have not been addressed and there is therefore little or no local support
3. Changes to the subsidies system.
With regard to point one, developers in the bad old days of 2012 – 2014, would often admit that they targeted local authorities where the Local Plan lacked the specific details which are necessary to maintain wind energy at an acceptable and appropriate level in landscape and residential terms. The absence of these developers so far in 2016 provides some level of assurance that the planning gaps have been plugged.
As recently as last October, at least one developer tried to claim that the WMS carried no weight. However, the fact that Planning Inspectors are making use of it as a reason to dismiss appeals demonstrates that this is clearly not the case.
There have been a number of encouraging appeal results in recent months. They include:
• A proposal to erect three to four wind turbines on Lillyhall Landfill Site. Cumbria County Council was the determining authority in this case although the site lies within Allerdale. The appeal was dismissed by the Planning Inspector mainly on the grounds of the substantial cumulative impact that the scheme would have alongside the considerable number of existing and approved wind turbines in the area. The appeal had been ‘recovered’ by the Secretary of State who agreed with and endorsed the Inspector’s conclusions.
• A proposal to erect a 45m wind turbine at Waverbank close to Mealsgate and Fletchertown. This appeal was dismissed by the Inspector who found that the development would conflict with the provisions of the WMS as the numerous concerns raised by local residents had not been fully addressed.
• A proposal to erect a 67m wind turbine at Dundraw Farm near Kelsick. Many objectors turned out to greet the Inspector McCoy for his site visit which must surely have left him in no doubt that that the proposal did not have the support of the local community. The WMS was therefore applied and the appeal was also dismissed as in conflict with National Planning Policy Framework and the Local Development Plan.
• A proposal to erect a 79.6m wind turbine at Threapland Lees. This appeal was dismissed on the grounds of harm to landscape character with a significant cumulative impact, which the appellant had judged to be ‘negligible.’
• A proposal to erect a 35m wind turbine at Carrick Dene, Edderside, near Maryport. This too was dismissed due to the considerable harm which would be caused to the local landscape and conflict with Local Development Plan policies and with National Planning Policy Framework guidance.
Another interesting appeal that we have been monitoring lately involved a 76 acre solar park proposed on land adjacent to the existing wind farm at Wharrels Hill, Bothel. Despite large scale opposition from local residents and objections from Cumbria County Council, Cumbria Tourism and also the Lake District National Park Authority, Allerdale’s planning officers saw fit to recommend approval for the scheme. Fortunately, councillors on the Planning Committee disagreed and voted to refuse this clearly inappropriate development proposal.
When it was determined that the subsequent appeal would be conducted via written representations rather than a Public Inquiry, many considered this to be inadequate given the contentious circumstances. Local residents nevertheless did a fantastic job submitting a comprehensive and detailed case to the Inspectorate.
The decision to proceed via written representations was then reversed in favour of a Public Inquiry and the appellants withdrew their case at that point.
Our hearty congratulations to everyone who worked so hard to avert what would have surely been a planning disaster!
A number of appeal results are still awaited including a proposal for a large single turbine near Wiggonby and also at Grange Grassings, which is in close proximity to Tallentire Wind Farm. Both of these have been ‘recovered’ and so the results will not be made public until the Secretary of State has reviewed the Inspector’s decision. It is impossible to predict how long the process will take but we will update this blog as soon as there is any news.