Lower Alt Wind Turbines – Rejected

West Lancs Council Planning Committee last night rejected the planning application to erect 12 turbines on land in Great Altcar Parish between Lydiate and Ince Blundell.

The local campaign group HALT ran the successful fight against the turbines.

HALT poster

It may seem odd that I am supportive of the rejection of these turbines as I am very firmly a supporter of renewable energy. However, what I could not never understand about this particular application was that the turbines, their massive concrete foundations and the access roads to service them would all be on the highest grade of agricultural land in England. On that basis I could not support them and am pleased that West Lancs Council has rejected them.

This photo is from a consultation event in Lydiate before the planning application was submitted.

This photo is from a consultation event in Lydiate before the planning application was submitted.

I doubt this will be the end of the story however as I assume that an appeal against the refusal will be made by the land owner/developer. Watch this space.

Lower Alt Wind Turbines – West Lancs Council ducks making a decision

A brief report from Lydiate Parish Councillor Edie Pope who attended the meeting of West Lancashire Borough Council’s Planning Committee last night as it decided (or didn’t decided) on the application to build wind turbines between Ince Blundell and Lydiate.

Cllr. Edie Pope outside Lydiate Village Centre

Cllr. Edie Pope outside Lydiate Village Centre

* The decision to either grant or refuse the application was deferred until November.

* One councillor said it should be on low quality land not high grade agricultural. [My point all along. Ed]

* The committee saw four thousand geese arrive at gore house farm. They also said the people who were for the wind farm didn’t live around here, one councillor said it was their responsibility to maintain our farmland so put them in the Mersey.

* It was deferred because eight councillors said they needed longer to process 120 pages of information.

* Was it a party political decision? All eight sat together and seemed to be all Labour members?

* Coriolis had 10 months to submit their proposals [feels more like 10 years. Ed] they should have had everything together by now.

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.

Lower Alt Wind farm – Update

For those wondering where this long-running project has actually got to here is an update. For clarity it should be remembered that the proposed site is within West Lancs Borough but the land that surrounds it to the east, west and south, is all in Sefton Borough.

HALT poster

Planners at West Lancs Council do not, I understand, expect the planning processes to be completed until October or even November.

It seems that several of the statutory consultees have yet to respond to the planning authority. These include Rural England, English Heritage, NATS and MOD.

If memory serves this has been on-going for over 4 years now and still no planning application has come before the Planning Committee of West Lancs Borough Council for them to decide upon.

The campaign group who oppose the wind farm (HALT) are still active and my own concerns about it being sited on high grade agricultural land still stand.

Lower Alt Wind Farm – More news to update you

Coriolis Energy came to talk to Lydiate Parish Council last Tuesday about their plans to erect 12 Blackpool Tower sized wind turbines on high grade agricultural land between Lydiate and Ince Blundell.

Regular readers of this blog site will know that I have commented on this plan many times before as it has been doing the rounds for ages.

Originally 24 turbines, the site is actually in West Lancashire not in Sefton. I am opposed to the plan because the turbines and the access roads to them are to be built on the highest grade of agricultural land. Put simply this is a draft place to site them in my view even though I am in no way an opponent of wind power, quite the opposite actually.

The discussion at the Parish Council meeting was of limited benefit as frankly the Coriolis representatives did not seem to me to be that well informed. Vague/general answers to questions posed seemed to be the order of the day. We did learn however that West Lancs Borough Council would be likely to decide on the planning application before them in the autumn or winter of 2016. (However, two days later when I ran across one of the lead campaigners against the turbines I was told that the application would probably be discussed at a West Lancs Planning Committee meeting to be held on 28th July.)

We touched on bird migration (Pink Footed Geese in particular) and the objections of the RSPB and the Wetlands Trust, although I am coming to the view that the effect of the turbines on bird migration may well not be a significant issue. I realise I am expressing a view here that others may disagree with.

The blade tips will be 136.5 meters high and one generating turbine (i.e. when the wind is blowing) will supply power to 2,000 houses, so Coriolis say.

There was an interesting discussion raised by my old friend Cllr. Edie Pope who asked the Coriolis representatives how they would take into account underground fires caused by the land being a drained peat moss. Underground fires are not unusual in this area. I don’t think Edie got an answer she was satisfied with.

We were told that the background noise would only be 5db above the prevailing background noise when the turbines were operating and that an increase of 10db would be required for the human ear to register the increase.

Obviously I am no expert so can’t really comment on some of the technical assumptions and statements made about them but at the end of the day it is still the highest grade of agricultural land that is going to be built on so my view remains ‘no’ to the turbines on this site.

Lower Alt Wind Farm – Where are we up to with it?

This has been doing the rounds for a very long time as West Lancashire Borough Council grapples with such a hugely controversial planning issue. The site sits between Lydiate and Ince Blundell – both these communities are in Sefton Borough but the land between them is in West Lancashire Borough.

I am told that letters have started to appear on the West Lancs Council web site supporting the wind farm and that some of them are from people or organisations who are outside of the affected area.

Clearly the developers are drumming up support letters in order to counter the huge local community opposition to the project.

HALT poster

HALT, the community based opposition to the wind farm wants anyone who knows someone who does object, but who mistakenly believes that they have missed the opportunity for their objection to count, to be encouraged to write in to the Council or to go on line at the West Lancs Planning Portal to register their views.

Whilst being strongly in favour of wind energy I oppose this site being developed for this purpose because areas of high grade agricultural land will be taken out of use for the bases of the turbines and the access roads required to service them. Lydiate Parish Council, which I am a member of, has opposed the plans.