Npower refuses to withdraw Cotton Wind Farm proposal

GIANT electricity generator npower renewables is set to let a Government planning inspector decide whether a wind farm of eight 400-feet high turbines should be allowed to dominate the south Huntingdonshire landscape. Planners at Huntingdonshire District

GIANT electricity generator npower renewables is set to let a Government planning inspector decide whether a wind farm of eight 400-feet high turbines should be allowed to dominate the south Huntingdonshire landscape.

Planners at Huntingdonshire District Council asked the company last December to withdraw the proposal and come back with a scaled-down plan. But the subsidiary of multi-national power giant RWE has refused, insisting HDC determine the original application for Cotton Farm, the site of the former wartime Graveley airfield.

Campaigners against the development believe npower's plan will be to appeal the refusal in the belief that it will get a better result from the Planning Inspectorate.

Planners are almost certain to recommend refusal of the proposal when it is considered by HDC's development management panel, probably in November or December.

Although the council would not comment in advance of that advice, nothing has changed since the planners told the company in December 2008 that the proposal was not acceptable because of its size, location and the positioning of the proposed turbines, and invited a less ambitious plan.

HDC's development control manager Andy Moffat told The Hunts Post at the time: "We have given our view that what is proposed could not be supported. So we have asked them whether they wish us to determine this application - in which case we would put it before the development control panel with a recommendation for refusal - or whether they would like to come back with a scaled-down scheme for us to consider."

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He stressed that there was no guarantee that even a smaller scheme would find favour with planners, but it would be considered on its merits.

The generator has declined to do that. "We have considered the council's comments carefully and have now responded to inform them that we will not be withdrawing the planning application," a spokesman for npower renewables said.

"We believe that the eight-turbine scheme we have proposed at Cotton Farm is a good scheme, and our detailed studies and assessments show this is a suitable location for a wind farm of this size."

The company believes the scheme could meet the average annual electricity needs of between 6,900 and 10,000 homes each year.

The company added: "There is an urgent need for renewable energy and, if we are to meet Government targets for renewable energy, then onshore schemes such as Cotton Wind Farm are vital, and it is imperative that they are built."

Residents in a clutch of villages that would be dwarfed by the scheme if it went ahead, and who formed the Cotton Farm Action Group (CFAG), this week vowed to fight on.

"We are surprised that npower is pushing ahead with an application, but we can only assume that they are determined to take the application to a planning appeal if planning permission is refused," said Bev Gray, CFAG chairman. "We will be working hard to raise public awareness of the situation and lobbying HDC to ensure they are fully aware of the views of local people. And, if we have to fight our case at appeal, then we will certainly do that.

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