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Ipstones wind turbine plans refused amid landscape impact fears

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: July 18, 2014

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Plans to build a turbine in a village have been refused amid fears of its impact on the landscape.

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council planning committee met on Thursday, July 17, at its headquarters in Stockwell Street, Leek, to decide on plans to build a single 50 kilowatt wind turbine with a hub axis height of 24.8 metres and a blade tip height of 34.5 metres at Crowgutter Farm, Park Lane, Ipstones for J D A M and P J Hall.

Speaking in objection to the application John Steele said: “I’m passionate about preserving and enhancing the beautiful landscape of the Churnet Valley as a member of the Churnet Valley Conservation Society and supporter of the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Project.

“The finishing touches are being put to the application for the Churnet Valley to become a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which is supported by our local MP and leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.

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“Much is to be gained with tourism by allowing this recognition; in this context I object strongly.

“The proposed development by reason of its scale and prominence will cause unnecessary harm on the beauty of the valley, creating an eyesore and blot on the landscape.

“The impact will be significant, considerable and far reaching.

“Every sympathy should be accorded to farmers, but this is not a sustainable provision and no bird or bat study has been undertaken.

“It states it is temporary, but 25 years is not temporary.”

Speaking on behalf of the applicant, agent Craig Barks said: “Mr Hall and his family operate a large dairy farm and manage a substantial area of land around Ipstones; there is pressure on farmers to reduce their production costs and carbon footprint.

“View and issues have been discussed, but the benefits to the viability of the farm is sufficient to outweigh any harm to the landscape.

“The siting has been discussed extensively and this location is considered the most suitable and is considerably lower then the north verge of Ipstones Edge.

“There will be views of the turbine from a short part of Park Lane, but the visual impact is not significant.”

The application was refused by the committee by eight votes to two.

Speaking against the plans councillor Linda Malyon said that due to the potential allocation of AONB status and “sensitive” position of the location, it was “wrong” for the development.

Speaking in favour of the plans councillor John Fisher said: “This turbine can provide 54 homes with energy and save 190 tonnes of carbon, which is considerable and significant and will provide energy for the farm without burning any fossil fuels.

“It would be seen from Foxt but it’s still only a pinprick to my mind and not hugely visually intrusive.”

Councillor Mike Worthington also objected to the plans.

He said: “This is a beautiful part of Ipstones and this would be a monstrous structure which is not in-keeping.

“We’ve got to protect our stake in the Staffordshire Moorlands.”

The application had been recommended for refusal by the council’ planning officers on the grounds that: “The proposed development, by reason of its form, scale and prominence will give rise to unacceptable harm to landscape character and unacceptable visual impact detrimental to the character and visual amenity of the landscape.

“The landscape of the site is identified in the Council’s Landscape and Settlement Character Assessment as being of high quality and highly sensitive to development and land use change.

“In this particular case, the harm that would be caused to the character and appearance of the area outweighs the benefit of producing renewable energy and its contribution towards Government targets.”

It received one letter of support, with no details given, and 20 letters of objection stating: detrimental visual impact locally and from wider views; intrusion and incongruity in the landscape; wide visibility, including from the Churnet Valley; noise including low frequency noise; flicker; threat to wildlife, especially bats and birds; ecology report has not considered Pheasants; determination process contrary to Arhus treaty; proximity to residential properties and Ipstones; risk of promoting radon emissions through vibration; harm to tourism; approval would encourage more proposals for the same; impact on Foxt and villages beyond; with no tall structures nearby the Kniveden appeal is not relevant; there are alternative less obtrusive sources of renewable energy; doesn’t meet the Peak Park standards; the area is “an AONB-in-waiting“; visibility from footpaths which criss-cross the area; criticism of the pre-submission consultation and that the applicant’s stated grid reference is for the applicant’s house.

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