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Wind of change

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: October 31, 2013

The two existing turbines at Morridge Top.

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MORE turbines could be erected in the Staffordshire Moorlands after planning officers recommended approval for the erection of three additional structures.

The applications are to be put in front of the district council’s planning committee for final approval tomorrow, Thursday, October 31.

If committee follows the recommendation of their officers, a third turbine will be erected near Morridge Top.

The latest application comes after a previous plan to erect two turbines was refused.

Planning officer Arne Swithenbank has recommended approval for a 34.2 metre (112 feet) turbine at Lane End Farm, Bradnop, for Hallmark Power Ltd.

The turbine would generate 217,00KW of electricity, which is predicted to equal the consumption of 53 houses.

In a report to councillors Mr Swithenbank said: “The application acknowledges the particular sensitivities of wind turbine proposals but considers that national, regional and local planning policies give overriding support with their promotion for the development of renewable energy, that the benefits outweigh any adverse environmental impacts.

“The earlier refused application for two turbines was judged inappropriate.

As a single turbine separated by 350 metres from the nearest turbine and by 640 metres from the next, the assessment is found to change significantly.

In most views this proposal would sit lower relative to the skyline than either of the two existing turbines.” Seven objections have been received raising concerns over the impact on the landscape, noise, lack of community benefit and inappropriate development in the green belt.

Mr Swithenbank has also recommended that permission be granted for a 34.2 metre (112 feet) turbine at Three Nooks Farm, Horton, despite 120 objections being received based on the green belt, landscape impact, noise and close proximity to a gas well.

In his report Mr Swithenbank said: “The predicted output is stated at 200,000 kW and is equivalent to the consumption of approximately 49 homes. The application links the proposal with the operation of a 112 acre dairy farm at Three Nooks milking approximately 90 cows.

“The application emphasises the continuing necessity for farms to diversify the economic viability of their business in order to secure a more sustainable future, which clearly with the benefit of the Government’s feed-in tariff this development would help to do so. The turbine base position would be slightly lower than the farm itself and the position is further ‘protected’ in that the ridge top height climbs markedly immediately north from the farm location.” However Horton Parish Council and Biddulph Town Council have objected to the proposals as being inappropriate development on a creeping industrial site within the green belt.

A third application for a turbine with a maximum height of 40 metres (131 feet) has also been recommended by Mr Swithenbank for approval at New Buildings Farm, Hilderstone.

The turbine would generate 535,000kW of electricity with a production predicted to equal the consumption of 130 homes.

Mr Swithenbank said: “The proposed wind turbine would meet the energy needs of this large dairy business and three residential properties on the site, including the main farmhouse and two permanent agricultural workers’ dwellings. Any excess electricity would be exported to the National Grid.” Meanwhile, calls have been made by the recently formed Staffordshire Moorlands Localism Action Group for the three applications to be deferred until the implications of a United Nations court ruling over what is know as the Aarhus convention, and a local policy supported by the leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council Sybil Ralphs, have becomeclearer.

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