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 Planning Committee meets on 10th November to determine whether they will go ahead or not

Readers of this blog site will be aware that Labour members of West Lancs Planning Committee were not prepared to make a decision on this most controversial of planning applications a couple of weeks ago so it was deferred. They can’t keep ducking the issue so it’s back before them on 10th November.

The Planning report has changed a bit and is detailed below but the substance of the recommendation, to reject the application, is as it was in my view. The deferment last time was supposedly because the Labour members had not had time to read the papers and consider the matter fully.

7.0 DEPARTURE APPLICATION
7.1 This proposal is a significant Departure from the Development Plan in that it
involves a development normally inappropriate in the Green Belt. The application
should, therefore, be referred to the Secretary of State if the Council were mindful
to grant approval.

8.0 RECOMMENDATION

8.1 That planning permission be REFUSED for the following reasons:-
Reasons 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 the
National Planning Policy Framework and Policy GN1 in the West Lancashire
Local Plan Development Plan Document 2012-2027. 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 considered insufficient to outweigh this harm.

2. By virtue of its siting, height 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 National Planning Policy Framework, Policies GN3 and EN2
of the West Lancashire Local Plan Development Plan Document 2012-2027 and
the Council’s Supplementary Planning Guidance “Natural Areas and Areas of
Landscape History Importance”.

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) and Section 72 (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 the National Planning Policy Framework and
Policy EN4 of the adopted West Lancashire Local Plan Development Plan
Document 2012-2027.

4. The proposed development conflicts with paragraph 118 of the National Planning
Policy Framework and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations
2010 (as amended) and Policy EN2 of the West Lancashire Local Plan
Development Plan Document 2012-2027 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 fails to comply with the National Planning Practice
Guidance in that the site is not allocated as suitable for wind energy development
in the West Lancashire Local Plan Development Plan Document 2012-2027 and
the planning impacts identified by local communities in relation to the green belt,
landscape character, heritage assets and ecology have not been fully addressed
and therefore the proposal does not have their backing.

Lydiate and Ince Blundell Parish Councils both opposed the plans a long time ago and their concerns seem to be mirrored by the comments of the professional planning officers at West Lancs Council.

Note: Whilst the site for the turbines is in West Lancashire it is on that strip of land that cuts into Sefton Borough between Lydiate and Ince Blundell Civil Parishes.

The Planning Committee meeting will be held in the offices of West Lancs Council in Derby Street Ormskirk and the meeting starts at 19.30hrs.

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.