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'Let's look at water power'

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: February 13, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

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PARLIAMENTARY approval could be sought for a unique planning policy for renewable energy applications to protect the special landscape and character of the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Councillor Sybil Ralphs, wants her authority to adopt an addition to the planning policy to limit the height of wind turbines to no more than 15 metres (49 feet) due to the area's unique situation in relation to the Peak Park.

Ms Ralphs said: "We have seen applications to install wind turbines in open countryside and on the top most ridges and highest points of our landscape, which could have an adverse and unacceptable impact on the quality of this landscape.

"I firmly believe that our location, with around a third of the Moorlands lying within the Peak National Park, and our outstanding countryside warrant a specific local policy regarding renewable energy."

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The proposals would seek to allow as permitted development wind turbines of no more than 15 metres to tip of blade, and within the boundary of the dwelling or business applying to install them.

Any applications not meeting these criteria would have to demonstrate exceptional circumstances.

Work is currently underway to gather evidence in support of the adoption of a local policy specific to the Moorlands.

Councillor Ralphs added: "Once this work is complete I will take a draft proposal to Westminster to make the case for the Moorlands. I also plan to raise wider issues regarding the use of additional renewable energy sources.

"For example, harnessing the power of water could have considerable benefits.

"Unfortunately, over the past few weeks, we have been reminded time and time again of the sheer power generated by our rivers and streams. I'd like to see the Government making a commitment to giving serious consideration to the role that hydro power could play in the future.

"In the 19th century, water played an important role in supplying power to many businesses whose success was built on this natural resource.

"Think of Arkwright in Derbyshire using the waters of the Derwent and, nearer home, the Cheddleton Paper Mill having the resource of the river Churnet.

"Alright, it will not work everywhere, but let's investigate this additional source of renewable energy; we have nothing to lose, and possibly much to gain."

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