Lower Alt Wind Turbines – West Lancs Council’s Planning Officers make recommendation to their Planning Committee to reject planning application.

Below is an extract from the report that will go before West Lancashire Borough Councillors as they decide whether to allow the wind turbine development on land between Lydiate and Ince Blundell.

8.0 RECOMMENDATION

8.1 That planning permission be REFUSED for the following reasons:-

Reason(s) for Refusal

1. The proposed development constitutes inappropriate development within the Green Belt which would be harmful to the Green Belt by definition, contrary to Policy GN1 in the West Lancashire Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework. In addition the proposed development would have a significant adverse impact upon the openness of the Green Belt and conflict with one of the purposes of including land in the Green Belt, aimed at safeguarding the countryside from encroachment. The very special circumstances advanced in favour of the proposed development, namely the provision of renewable energy, are insufficient to outweigh this harm.

2. By virtue of its siting and scale the proposed development would be harmful to the visual amenity and landscape character of this part of the Green Belt contrary to the NPPF and Policies GN3 and EN2 of the West Lancashire Local Plan.

3. The development of the proposed 12 turbines would due to their height, scale, proximity and extent cause harm to the significance, to the historic setting, of a number of designated heritage assets (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas). The proposal in this respect fails to meet the statutory duty as required by Section 66(1) of the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. The Council does not consider the stated public benefits, including the provision of renewable energy, outweigh the harm identified (less than substantial) to the designated heritage assets
affected. The proposal is therefore contrary to Policy EN4 of the adopted West Lancashire Local Plan 2012-2027 DPD and the National Planning Policy Framework.

4. The proposed development conflicts with Policy EN2 of the West Lancashire Local Plan Development Plan Document 2012-2027, paragraph 118 of the National Planning Policy Framework and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) in that insufficient information has been provided to demonstrate that the proposed development would not adversely affect internationally designated sites, their qualifying features and supporting habitat.

5. The proposed development conflicts with the requirements of National Planning Policy Framework together with the Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (EN1) and Policy EN1 of the West Lancashire Local Plan in that it has not been demonstrated that the wind farm would not present a hazard to the safe operation of aircraft.

6. The proposed development would result in loss of the best and most versatile agricultural land and a there is no evidence that the applicant has sought to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of higher quality. It has not been justified that this loss is absolutely necessary to deliver strategic infrastructure and the development therefore fails to comply with the NPPF, NPPG and Policies EC2 and EN2 of the West Lancashire Local Plan.

7. The proposed development fails to comply with the National Planning Policy
Guidance in that the site is not allocated as suitable for wind energy development in the West Lancashire Local Plan and the planning impacts identified by local communities in relation to the green belt, landscape character, heritage assets, aviation, ecology and loss of agricultural land have not been fully addressed and therefore the proposal does not have their backing.

My own view, as someone who is very much in favour sustainable energy solutions, has always been that the site is unsuitable for this use because it is high grade agricultural land and that the turbine bases and service roads will compromise some of the 2% highest grade of such land in England.

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