KIRKBY MOOR WIND FARM APPLICATION.
UPDATE BY LOWICK PARISH COUNCIL AND BLAWITH AND SUBBERTHWAITE PARISH COUNCIL
What this is about
In December last year RWE Innogy submitted an Application for Planning Consent (Application No SL/2014/1220) to South Lakeland District Council (SLDC). The company wishes to demolish the existing 12 small wind turbines on the Moor, and replace them with six new ones.
Planning Consent for the existing development was awarded by the Secretary of State in March 1992 despite strong local opposition and rejection of the initial Application and at Appeal, on the the grounds that the ‘such harm in this instance [its visual impact on the landscape] is outweighed by the national need for the development of alternative cleaner sources of energy’,
The 12 turbines that generated such controversy that that time are 139 ft. high (43m). The proposal aims to replace these with six machines that would be 373 ft. (115m) high - more than two and a half times as high as the present ones on the Moor. Clearly, any arguments against the existing ones on the grounds of visual intrusion must now be considered against the potential impacts of the new proposal.
‘Location, location, location’
Kirkby Moor is at the edge of the Lake District National Park, and also overlooks the Duddon Estuary, which is an International ‘Special Protected Area’ The National Park Boundary here is entirely arbitrary - the landscape outside the Park itself is just as attractive as that inside. The new turbines would be visible from Morecambe Bay to the south, and from much of the Southern Fells of the Park to the north and east. Many objections have already been sent in to SLDC from National Agencies and organisations objecting to the Application on the grounds of its inevitable impact on public perception of the landscape of the region.
Public opposition to this development is widespread,with little support for it. With the exception of Colton PC, all Parish Councils around Kirkby Moor (Lowick, Blawith with Subberthwaite, Egton cum Newland, Osmotherley, Mansriggs, Kirkby and Ireleth, and Ulverston and Millom Town Councils) have formally opposed the development, whilst many local residents have also written to SLDC expressing their views.
Although Millom and the area to the north of the Estuary are outside SLDC’s administrative area, people living there would have clear views of this development, so SLDC sent details to Copeland Borough Council so that these areas under its own administration could be informed of the Application. Unfortunately, this was not passed on, occasioning serious concern there over this failure to alert local residents to their right to comment on the Application.
Most notable objections are on the grounds of the impact on the landscape and the visual intrusion that the greatly increased size of the turbines will cause,. But there is also strong concern over the implications for both the potential impact on the tourism sector and resentment that objections on the grounds of the possible devaluation of their property on the open market can not be considered by the Planning Authority.
This last issue is a particularly bitter one, because devaluation of property is not a matter that SLDC is permitted to consider under Planning Regulations. However, this may be one factor that must be considered under other legislation. So even though comments on this ground will be disregarded by the planners themselves, this is not a muzzle on the public expressing its opinion. Members of the public are perfectly entitled to express their views on this matter, if only to establish the existence of an important public concern that may be considered elsewhere.
Coordination of public responses
Whilst Parish Councils are, like individuals and companies, permitted to express their vies, coordinating public responses to the Application. They have no formal obligation to go further, as they are simply Statutory Consultees - that is, they have to be consulted before the Application is considered by SLDC.
However, we arranged Public Meetings to enable local people to learn of the possible environmental effects of the proposed development, and held two well-attended meetings on 16th and 17th March. One factor that is important is that Kirkby Moor is both registered Common Land and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). It is therefore subject to highly restrictive legal and national policy constraints on what may be permissible, aspects that local Environmental Consultant Doug Cross is investigating at present.
Government incentive to support the Application.
Under the government’s Community Benefit Fund scheme, on-shore windfarm projects are expected to offer local communities financial payments to promote local community development. Some Parish Councillors have strongly objected to this, on the grounds that this provision appears to be offering cash to Parish Councils as an incentive aimed at influencing their position to support of the Application, possibly in breach of the Bribery Act. Both Lowick and Kirkby PCs have been informed that this would amount to £35,000 to each community, however both councils voted against this application and refused the money. Members of the public may have a view on this issue.
What you need to do now.
The period for Public Consultation will close on 15th May, so if you wish to submit your own comments on the Application they must be received by South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) by that date.
Getting detailed information on the proposal
The documents describing the Application are extremely extensive, amounting to 22kg in weight! Printed versions are available (at a cost of around £1000 per set) or on CD at £10, from the Applicants. However, for a much more modest amount - nil, in fact - you can access them free of charge by downloading them from the SLDC web site. Here’s how.
First access page for documents
The SLDC Planning Application Status Report, listing all documents, is reached through an opening page here Scroll to the bottom of the page, where you will find a line of blue menu boxes These provide access to all documents relating to the Application, including maps of the location, the details of the Application itself, and its supporting documents, together with public Comments. There is also a Summary of the present state of the Application, which is updated as more comments are sent to SLDC.
To examine the Application documents themselves (all 49 of them) click on the blue ‘View Plans and Documents’ button at the foot of the page. You will first see a new page with a Copyright Notice. Click on the ‘Agree’ button, then on ‘Proceed’ to reach tie full list of documents.
All documents are listed in reverse date order - the most recent go to the top of the first page of the list, so the Application documents are all right at the end of the list. This is on pages 5 and 6 as at the beginning of April, but as more comments arrive, they’ll appear even further back. Double click on any reference to a document in the list to obtain a copy.
Commenting on the Application
If you wish to comment electronically, click on the blue button ‘Comment’, which provides a form for you to complete. If you have a detailed comment you wish to submit, it is best to compose this on your computer first then copy and paste the text into the box for your comment (pages can ‘time out’ if you take too long thinking about things without using the page!).
If you prefer, you can comment on the Application in writing or by email. In these cases, please ensure that you include the following Reference Number in your Comment:
Planning Application Number: SL/2014/1220
Written statements should be sent to
Principal Planning Officer, South Lakeland District Council Offices, South Lakeland House, Lowther Street, Kendal, Cumbria LA9 4UF