Crake Valley turbine plan withdrawn

The Westmorland Gazette: Protestors Leslie Ingham, Doug Cross and Liz Vaughan Protestors Leslie Ingham, Doug Cross and Liz Vaughan

CAMPAIGNERS have welcomed the withdrawal of plans to build a single wind turbine in the Crake Valley.

The application for the 77m turbine was lodged in September by Essex-based Free Wind Ltd, on behalf of James Miller, the owner of Lowick Common.

It sought consent from South Lakeland District Council to build a 500kw turbine, the equivalent to the average annual consumption of about 400 houses, on the Common.

But it was met with anger from local residents and surrounding parish councils on the grounds that it would cause a negative impact on the ecology and landscape.

More than 80 people attended a public meeting to vent their frustration. And now, the plans have been withdrawn for ‘further consultation’ in regards to the visual and ecological aspects of the project.

The company completed a desk study before the submission but will now conduct further studies to look at the affect it could have on animals with European Protected Species Status.

“These include great crested newts, medicinal leeches, badgers and otters, said Xerxes Mehta, project manager at Free Wind Ltd. “We will work closely with our ecology team, Natural England and SLDC, to ensure all necessary surveys are conducted at the correct time of year for each species.

“Both FWL and the landowner appreciate the value of all species at this site, the relevance of the Common and their importance to the wider environment.”

Environmental consultant Doug Cross, who lives nearby, was one of those who organised the public meeting. He said the withdrawal could be of national importance, adding: “One of the concerns of many people at the meeting was that such a large machine close to the village would devalue property.

“But planning guidelines issued by the council warn that objections on this ground will not be considered by planning authorities. This is not acceptable.”

He said recent European Court rulings required environmental impact statements to be provided for medium to large turbine applications – including estimates of any reduction in property value.

“In future all such developments will have to make allowances for their adverse effects on environmental quality, including the economic values of property and landscape,” he said.

“So the resistance put up by the residents of one small village in the Cumbrian fells to a relatively minor local development may turn out to have a profound effect on the costs of even such high profile national projects as the controversial High Speed Rail 2 project.”

Once further investigations are completed the company said it would ‘take a view on re-submitting our application at the appropriate time’.

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