A CONTROVERSIAL scheme to double the height of five wind turbines has been turned down despite overwhelming support from members of the public.

The plan, which would see the removal of five existing 53-metre-high turbines to be replaced by ones 99.5 metres tall on Harlock Hill, near Ulverston, split South Lakeland District Council’s planning committee. Five were in support while six members were against it.

Two of the new turbines would be operated by Baywind Energy Co-operative Ltd and three by Infinergy - though one application has been submitted for the whole site, and the applicant said the wind farm could provide electricity for around 6,000 households each year.

More than 300 letters of support were received for the project, including from members of the co-operative who benefit from a financial return. Around 50 letters of objection were lodged.

Speaker Tammy Calvert spoke in support of the plan.

“My little girl understands electricity is generated by the turbines and that she shouldn’t waste it,” she said. “Why should being able to see the turbines be a negative? I grew up in the 1970s with power cuts and I can’t believe we could experience that again.

“I don’t want my children to grow up in the dark."

Marna McMillin from Energy4All, which supports the Baywind co-operative, said that the site was ‘internationally recognised as a flagship project’.

“It is a beacon organisation of which this county should be proud,” she said. “Why not take pride in this unique Cumbrian achievement and continue to inspire others?”

Chris Dodwell, of Ulverston’s GlaxoSmithKline plant, also spoke in favour of the application and described how buying from the electricity supply would help the pharmaceutical firm achieve its ambition of a zero carbon footprint by 2050.

“We selected the project with the least local impact possible and with most local benefit,” he said.

Committee member Coun David Ryder backed the scheme saying the alternative of power stations would have a worse visual impact on neighbouring residents.

“We are going to destroy our environment if we don’t pass applications like this, that make a lot of sense, on the grounds that a couple of cyclists might not like it.”

But David Bowen, who lives at Harlock Farm, said he already lived with the turbines and with their visual impact and background noise ‘ever-present’. And he said with the turbines on higher ground, every living space in the house and garden is ‘highly exposed’ to views of them.

“They are over-powering and over-bearing and have a massive adverse effect on our lifestyle,” he said. “Furness is effectively ringed like a prison with wind turbines. This will no doubt lead to applications to replace other aging turbines on other sites. I support renewable energy, but it must respect the environment and those who live within it. Furness has already suffered enough.”

Coun Janette Jenkinson said: “It was a brave step when the committee at the time passed the Harlock Hill development but we have moved on since then and have to look at the cumulative effect in the area.

“The local community are saying enough is enough; the turbines are a huge stain on the Furness peninsula and it is time we said no.”

Barrow Borough Council planners will also consider the application this month.