April 2, 2014 | Armistead News
The decision by South Lakeland District Council’s planning committee to support plans for a new three-turbine wind farm in south Cumbria has been ‘called in’ for review by the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG).
A planning application put forward by developer Banks Renewables for the three-turbine Killington wind farm, which would be located to the south of the A684 Sedbergh Road, adjacent to Junction 37 of the M6, was approved by the Council in February by a majority of seven votes to three.
However, despite the clear local support given to the scheme, DCLG immediately announced that it was to review whether there are any grounds on which the Council decision should be subjected to further examination by central Government, and it has now decided to follow this course of action.
This ruling now means that the local decision no longer stands, and that an eventual determination f the planning application will be made centrally by the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles.
Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, says: “The National Planning Policy Framework puts particular emphasis on decision-making being focused at a local level. Having a clear mandate from a local council called in for review at a national Governmental level in this way shows that this principle is not actually being realised in practice.
“A substantial majority of the members of South Lakeland District Council’s planning committee voted in favour of our Killington wind farm proposals, and judged that the economic, environmental and community benefits it would bring to the area outweighed any issues that had been otherwise raised about them.”
Banks has conducted an extensive public engagement project around the scheme over the last two years, and has gathered a wide range of public backing for it, with more than 1,400 letters of support being submitted to the Council in advance of the planning committee meeting.
A range of economic, social and environmental benefits form part of the overall Killington development package, including facilities that could enable a new fixed wireless system capable of bringing fast broadband to the local area for the first time.
The broadband plan was developed by Banks in response to the priorities expressed by local people they were asked how the community benefits fund that will be linked to the wind farm might best be allocated.
The fund could amount to around £1.25 million over the wind farm’s 25-year lifespan, and, if permission for the Killington wind farm is granted, Banks will continue its work with local people to identify priority community, environmental and infrastructure projects that the fund could be used to support.
The Killington Education Foundation and Killington United Charities are part-owners of the land on which the Killington wind farm would sit, and both organisations would also further benefit directly from revenues generated by it.
Up to 50 people would be working on site through the construction of the wind farm, and local businesses would also be able to tender for contracts worth around £2m relating to different aspects of its development, including construction, security, accommodation and catering.
Phil Dyke continues: “The Killington wind farm is a well-designed proposal in an entirely suitable location that has had considerable local backing, with more than 1,400 letters of support submitted to the Council, the vast majority of which came from people living within ten miles of the site.
“It would be the people of the area who will enjoy the economic, social and employment benefits that this project will bring to their community if it goes ahead, and we remain extremely grateful to all those who have strongly supported it.
“As well as severely endangering the delivery of all the benefits encompassed in this project, including a scheme to improve local access to broadband internet that we developed in response to local demand, the public enquiry that will now follow on from DCLG’s decision will cause an unnecessary impact on public finances, which are obviously stretched enough as it is.
“We will now review the precise reasons behind this decision before deciding on the most appropriate next steps to take.”
Further information on all aspects of the Killington wind farm can be seen at www.banksgroup.co.uk/killington. Anyone who would like to express their support for the Killington project should contact the Banks Renewables’ community engagement team on 0191 378 6100 or via firstname.lastname@example.org