Story by: ANDREW PAPWORTH
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
A WIND farm at Southoe would be the “final nail in the coffin” for the village, campaigners warned ahead of a planning meeting next week.
More than 250 residents have written to object to the proposal for three 125m turbines on land north-west of Church Farm, Rectory Lane.
Their main complaints are that the Common Barn Wind Farm would harm the landscape, damage the area’s cultural amenity, result in noise disturbance and cause road safety issues on the A1 while being built.
They also believe the plan has “exaggerated benefits”, saying the area’s low wind speed would “dramatically curtail the amount of electricity produced”.
However, even if Huntingdonshire District Council’s development management panel rejects the application, it could have little impact on the final outcome.
TCI Renewables Ltd, the applicant, has lodged an appeal against the council’s non-determination of the plan, meaning the decision will be made by a Government planning inspector appointed by the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles instead of local councillors. The panel will meet on Monday to indicate the decision it would have made.
Sandro Proietti, from the Stop Common Barn Wind Farm Action Group, accused TCI Renewables of “underhand tactics” to get its application through.
“TCI Renewables has yet to provide all the information required and objections are still outstanding,” he said.
He also said those involved on all sides were entering an “unknown situation” because HDC has not revealed its officer recommendation to councillors, even though this is usually included on the front of publicly-available planning application documents. It simply says the recommendation is “to be advised at or before the panel meeting”.
Yet the final paragraph of the officer report says: “A full assessment of the planning balance cannot be made until the full impacts of the development on the A1, residential amenity and archaeology are known.
“However, having assessed the landscape and visual impact of the development and the impact on heritage assets (except archaeology), the conclusion reached is that the limited harm to these assets is outweighed by the benefit of the renewable energy which will be generated.”
Mr Proietti added: “Southoe has lost its shops and amenities over previous years. It is quite difficult to get people to move into the village as it is. This will be the final nail in the coffin.”