Council rejects plan for Common Barn Wind Farm

PLANS for a wind farm at Southoe were unanimously rejected by councillors on Monday (December 17) – but the application will now be heard on appeal.

Sandro Proietti, from the Stop Common Barn Wind Farm Action Group, said Huntingdonshire District Council’s development management committee had listened to the views of the village after more than 250 people wrote to object to the proposals to build three 125m-high turbines.

At a meeting on Monday (December 17), members of the committee asked a series of tough questions during which they made clear they did not think the proposed location for the wind farm, on land north-west of Church Farm, Rectory Lane, was the right one.

However the councillors’ decision may in the end count for very little. The applicant, TCI Renewables Ltd, had already lodged an appeal against the council’s non-determination of the plan, meaning the matter will be decided by a Government planning inspector.

The committee could only therefore indicate the decision it would have made if it had been given the final say.

“It is clear the community doesn’t actually want this,” Mr Proietti said. “It is seriously in the wrong place. Southoe is one of the most beautiful parts of the county and it is just going to blight the area.”

Unusually, the councillors made the decision without a recommendation from officers.

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A recommendation is usually included on the front of planning application documents made available to the public but officers said they could not fully assess the plans until impacts on the A1, residential amenity and archaeological factors were known.

They had promised to inform councillors of their recommendation before the meeting but did not do so.

Hazel Ide, project developer at TCI Renewables, said: “This is a good scheme that is well located, fulfils the council’s planning guidance and, although visual, will provide economic benefit to the community and enough electricity for nine parishes.”

Campaigners had complained that TCI had “exaggerated benefits” of the scheme but Ms Ide said: “The Government through a vast array of legislation, including the latest Energy Bill, has stated there is a need for renewable energy.

“Even if there weren’t Government targets it just makes human sense that we don’t keep burning fossil fuels to power our kettles and laptops.”

The residents will now take their fight to the future hearing with a planning inspector, where they hope to be represented by a barrister and a legal team.