Councillors reject planners’ advice over wind farm

WIND farm developers will have to consider whether to appeal or come back with a smaller scheme after district councillors turn down a proposed four-turbine farm at Woolley Hill on Monday.

Huntingdonshire council’s development management panel voted 9-5 against accepting planners’ recommendation to approve the proposal from Renewable Energy Systems UK and Ireland.

The planners had argued that the harm the four turbines would do to the west Huntingdonshire landscape was outweighed by the benefits of their contribution to the nation’s renewable energy.

But, after hearing from several of the 150 protesters who crowded into HDC’s Pathfinder House headquarters on Monday evening for the hour-and-a-half session, the panel turned down the plan.

Members were concerned that there were too many turbines and that the impact on Grade I-listed Ellington parish church would be unacceptable, the council’s development manager Andy Moffatt said after the meeting.

Supplementary planning guidance on wind farms in the Huntingdonshire countryside, drawn up in 2006, recommended that up to three turbines would be acceptable in the Woolley Hill area. But the coalition Government’s decision to press for more renewable energy than its predecessor made the four-turbine farm acceptable, the planners argued.

They had also said that, although the view of one of the turbines from the porch of Ellington church would be significant, there would be less impact from elsewhere in the churchyard.

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“We had to start from the clear Government assumption in favour of such developments,” Mr Moffatt told The Hunts Post. “We thought the harm did not outweight the benefits.

“The members took a different view, that four turbines were too many, and that one of the turbines would be visible between buildings. Unfortunately, it’s not one of the end ones.”

Res now has the option to appeal after seeing the precise wording of the reasons for refusal or to look at an alternative scheme for three turbines.

“We invited them to do that during the process, but they asked for the application to be determined as it was,” Mr Moffatt said.