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 – 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.

Park Pool Ormskirk – Still under threat of closure?

leisure_parkpool1_06

I got this e-mail the other day:-

We are writing to you because you recently signed our petition to save Park Pool. This generated over 1000 signatures in 48 hours – a huge response that quickly prompted some backtracking by the [West Lancashire Borough] council Leader.

We are writing to you now to make you aware that the threat to Park Pool’s long term future is still very real, even if it is safe in the very short term.

In spite of the Council Leader’s categorical assurances that Park Pool was safe, the draft [West Lancashire Council] Leisure Strategy still mentions the word “closure” in relation to Park Pool on Page 21 Section c). Worse, when Councillor Adrian Owens moved an amendment at the full council meeting to specifically remove this closure reference, Labour councillors voted the amendment down as they were determined that the possibility of the pool’s closure remained in the draft strategy.

Labour may say they want to replace the pool. They don’t say with what or where. We believe from the original wording of the council report – the report that the petition helped change – that they mean Edge Hill [University].

Park Pool makes an operating surplus, serves 15 primary schools with swimming to meet their national curriculum requirement, 9000 swimming lessons a year and has provided employment for a growing number of local people as its use has actually increased in recent years. It is a highly popular and well located facility whose construction was part funded by the people of Ormskirk. The new facilities at Edge Hill are primarily for University use and are not available to the community or schools for much of the week.

Therefore, it is down to local people to see if we can get the closure reference removed. The council are now consulting on the draft strategy. We are asking you please to respond to the consultation on the draft leisure strategy.

A short email headed Consultation Response to Draft Leisure Strategy and emailed to leisure@westlancs.gov.uk stating that you want the reference to closure of Park Pool at Page 21 c) removed and replaced with a commitment to invest in and develop the facility would be enormously helpful. The pressure from the petition that prompted the partial change of direction needs to be maintained.

Please ensure that you ask for an acknowledgement that your email has been received by the [West Lancs Borough] council and we would be grateful if you could please keep us informed of any correspondence you make on this matter. You may want to copy your ward councillors into any consultation response you make.

The e-mail was from a group who call themselves ‘Our West Lancashire’ and my understanding is that their only councillor (mentioned above) left the West Lancs Borough Council Conservative Group not so long ago. What’s more him doing so gave Labour the leadership of the Council!