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Wind turbine for Lowe Hill in Leek refused after 24 letters of objection

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

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Plans to build a wind turbine on the outskirts of a town have been refused because of its close proximity to others in the area.

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 11 kilowatt wind turbine with a hub axis height of 18.3 metres and a blade tip height of 25 metres at Ballington Grange, Lowe

Hill, Leek for Mr G Wilshaw.

Speaking against the plans Jeremy Knight, of Sandy Brook Lane, Leek, said: “A large number of residents have not been informed of the application and do not want a wind turbine.

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“It will be visible from nearly all of Leek which is an unspoilt area visited by thousands of people every year.”

Dr James Adams, of Birchall Edge, representing his family also objected to the plans.

He said: “We are against this wind turbine in the strongest possible terms and are concerned about the visual pollution.

“This turbine will be highly visible to our home’s main living areas and garden, which we would not be able to get away from.

“No one has given us any reassurance that we won’t get any noise pollution and we’re concerned that the turbine will be highly visible on, and spoil, an otherwise untouched landscape.

“It has not been very well publicised, despite affecting several neighbouring residential areas, and the vast majority of residents haven’t been contacted or informed.”

Also speaking against the plans Lesley Roberts said: “I responded to this but it is not mentioned at all.

“This will have a cumulative effect and is close to Ladderedge Country Park in an historical area between two ancient woods, Birchall and Ballington.

“More people should have been consulted; it’s very poor.”

Speaking in favour, applicant Geoffrey Wilshaw said: “I have lived in the Staffordshire Moorlands all my life and at Ballington Grange for 29 years and take great care of the countryside, footpaths and bridleways around my property.

“Energy prices are rising above inflation making it extremely difficult to support Ballington Grange and our responsibility to maintain the countryside.

“We decided to scale down the proposed turbine so it is considerably smaller than two turbines in close proximity on Morridge and one planned on Mount Road by Kniveden and goes a long way to minimise its visual impact.

“Having only two blades eliminates any flicker effect.”

Speaking for the applicant, agent Craig Barks added: “This turbine is 10 metres lower than the larger ones in the immediate area; I disagree with comments that this structure is at odds with the character as it complies with other vertical structures in the locality.

“It will be visible but the landscape benefits from screening, it is close to the property and will not be dominant.

“Views from properties in the locality and public right of way have been discussed, but it has clear benefits regarding renewable energy.”

The plans were refused by 10 votes to zero by the planning committee.

Councillor John Fisher said: “This would be an open site on top of a hill with no screening to mitigate; it will be seen from Cheddleton, Birchall and Ladderedge.

“It will only provide energy for the applicant, which is not a working farm. It is worth it?

“There would be a cumulative impact and this committee wasn’t happy with what was proposed at Mount Road, it was approved by appeal.”

The application was recommended for refusal by 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 with additional cumulative harm detrimental to the character and visual amenity of the landscape including adverse cumulative significance for the setting of Leek.

“The landscape of the site is identified in the Council’s Landscape and Settlement Character Assessment as being of high quality.

“In this case, the significant 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.”

One letter of support was received stating: Government policies promote renewable energy; turbine is a small structure located at the required distance from neighbours.

It has received 24 letters of objection stating issues such as: adverse visual amenity impact as this is a skyline location; other more suitable areas; adversely impact open character of the area; no economic benefit to area and miniscule production of energy; blades would refract sunlight; too close to residential properties; only benefit would be a subsidy for applicant; adverse impact upon house prices; intrusion and incongruity in the landscape; wide visibility; will be seen from all around Leek; loss to tranquillity of the scene; dramatic alteration to character both nearby and for important vantage points; negligible contribution to renewable energy; alien; precedent for more; Green Belt impacts; prominent impact leading to loss of amenity for the community of Birchall; stroboscopic effects; specific dominant impacts on certain properties; proximity to Birchall is under-played; represents harsh skyline development with no natural screening; noise disturbance, especially dominant at night; should be at least one mile from houses according to UK Noise Association; Government says development should not be permitted if local communities are opposed and this is enshrined in the Localism Bill; risk of sleep disturbance and other health issues; loss to walkers’ amenity; applicant not farming at the premises; disturbance and threat to wildlife, especially bats and birds. 

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