Campaigners shock at developer’s green light for Woolley Hill wind farm

DEVELOPERS have today (Friday) won their appeal to build a wind farm at Woolley Hill.

The Woolley Hill Action Group (WHAG) has been fighting against RES UK’s plans to build four 130.5-metre tall turbines at the site near Ellington since 2010.

RES appealed against Huntingdonshire District’s decision to refuse planning permission which was upheld by Government planning inspector David Rose today (Friday).

Mr Rose examined four main issues when upholding the appeal - the landscape and visual impact, the impact on cultural heritage and the balance with national energy and carbon reduction schemes he identified in a public inquiry in January - and the effects on the environment on local residents.

He said: “The visual impact of the proposal on Ellington, its immediate surrounds and its residents would undoubtedly be striking, but would cause limited harm to the site and setting of the historic village.

“There was nothing of sufficient materiality in the effects on local residents to be included against the project in the final planning balance.”

English Heritage said the proposal would harm the almost 1,000-year-old Grade I-listed All Saints’ Church, across the valley in Ellington, the village’s conservation area and a number of Grade II-listed buildings.

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Ron Ward, WHAG chairman, said the decision shocked the group. He told The Hunts Post: “We are a bit emotional at the moment especially after the Bicton wind farm decision as we felt we had a stronger case.

“WHAG will look at the decision, and hold a meeting with residents before seeing what actions to take next. We’ve been fighting this for two years but it won’t end now.”

Once constructed, the 8mw wind farm will be able to generate electricity for up to 5,000 homes, the equivalent of eight percent of the annual electricity consumption of all the homes in Huntingdonshire.

Jon Knight, project manager for the wind farm, commented, “We are very pleased with the planning inspector’s decision, which balances the national need to secure reliable, renewable energy sources for future generations and understandable concerns about possible local impacts.

“In addition to contributing to national targets to generate 15% of the UK’s energy requirements from renewable sources by 2020, Woolley Hill Wind Farm will bring economic and environmental benefits to the local area, including a community fund of around �16,000 per year and wildlife enhancement measures on site, such as the restoration of existing, and creation of new, hedgerows. RES will also seek to employ local companies and individuals during the construction and operation of the wind farm wherever the relevant skills and services are available.

“RES is a responsible developer and will be a good neighbour to people living around the wind farm. We are looking forward to working with Huntingdonshire District Council and the local community to finalise the project.”

Inspectors refused an appeal to build four turbines in Bicton earlier this month. They said: “The sensitive character of this valley landscape would be seriously adversely affected, the enjoyment of the attractive valley landscape impaired and the settings of important heritage assets significantly harmed.”

RES expect it will take a year to complete the wind farm after their start date next year.