The 3 Week Diet System

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Battle lines drawn in renewables planning war

May 13:

AN environmental battle has been triggered by a series of planning applications from the renewable energy sector in Cumbria.

A proposal for a 20,000 solar farm at a 34-acre site in Workington was turned down by Allerdale Council’s development panel last week.

The scheme at Moor House Farm, between High Harrington and Lillyhall, brought forward by Solar Park Developments, was opposed by Friends of Rural Cumbria’s Environment (FORCE).

However, Solar Park Developments has said it plans to appeal against the decision.

A spokesperson for Pegasus Planning Group , which represents Solar Park Developments, said: “We are extremely disappointed that Allerdale Council have refused planning permission against their professional planning officer’s recommendation to approve their solar farm.

"Solar Park Developments believe that officer’s and other consultees were right to recommend approval.
"This proposal is on low grade agricultural land, is virtually invisible in the landscape and brings with it a good number of ecological and biodiversity improvements to the area, not to mention the benefits of generating renewable energy such as saving on carbon emissions and energy security.
"The North West is a national leader in renewable energy and this entirely acceptable scheme is a missed opportunity for Allerdale Council to underline its green credentials."

Meanwhile, three more applications have been received by Allerdale Council, including a bid by Green Switch Developments to create a 72-acre solar park with an output of approximately 14.63MW on land east of Wharrels Hill Wind Farm, at Bothel, Wigton.

FORCE is also opposing this application, along with Cumbria Tourism and the Wainwright Society and numerous residents.

In the objection to the planning application, Richard Greenwood, of Cumbria Tourism, said: “We have serious concerns that its (the solar park) development could have harmful impacts on the visitor economy of the area.

“We believe that the solar park will be very visible from local roads, footpaths and long distance viewpoints.

“Its impact will compound the visual damage already created by the adjacent windfarm. We consider that the energy generation benefits from the solar Park will not offset the visual harm to the landscape of this area which is the main draw for its visitors.

“Cumbria's visitor economy is worth £2.24bn annually. It sustains more than 32,800 employees.”

Derek Cockell, secretary The Wainwright Society, said:  “The Society believes that such a development, on agricultural land so close to the National Park is an unwanted man-made intrusion into the landscape that would have a detrimental visual impact when viewed from the high ground to the south and east: notably, from the slopes and summit of Binsey.”

Josh Hellawell, assistant planner for Green Switch said the level of local opposition was not preferable, but went on: “It is something we understand and have given significant consideration to.

“However we are still of the mind-set that the site remains an appropriate one and a well suited location for solar development.”

Other applications due for consideration by Allerdale include the erection of erection of three wind turbines with a maximum blade tip height of up to 110m, together with associated hardstandings, a substation and control building on land at White Lees Farm, Aiglegill Farm and West Farm, Aspatria, Wigton.

The application is from Airvolution Energy, represented by agent Savills. It has also resulted in a significant number of objections from local residents and FORCE.

An Airvolution spokesperson said: "Our planning application will be determined by the local authority on the basis of its independent impacts and benefits and we’re confident that this is an appropriately sited wind energy project with valuable local benefits."

The third application is for the installation of a 500kW wind turbine (67m to blade tip) and its associated infrastructure (crane pad, access track and meter house) at Dundraw Farm, Dundraw, Wigton. The applicant is D Harrison of Wigton, and the agent is Neo Environmental, of Glasgow.

The applicant and the agent declined to comment.

FORCE chairman David Colborn said the voluntary organisation was set up in 2003 to oppose three large wind turbines at High Pow Farm at Bolton Low House, Wigton.

“Since then there has been a mass of wind turbine applications, particularly in the borough of Allerdale, which has 62% of Cumbria’s renewable energy sites.” he said.“We are not an anti renewable energy group.   

“But we are against the inappropriate siting of new renewable energy developments, on grounds of landscape impact and visual amenity. With wind turbines there are significant amenity issues.

“With solar parks, there are landscape and visual amenity issues. The proposed site at Wharrels Hill is for a very large field and there are issues relating to grazing also.”


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