October 7, 2014 | Renewables News
Renewable energy developer Banks Renewables is considering its options after a planning application to allow a test wind mast to stay on the site of a possible wind farm site in south Cumbria was rejected by South Lakeland District Council.
The 80m mast on the proposed Killington site was erected by Banks in 2012 as part of its design work for the three-turbine scheme that it was looking to locate on land to the south of the A684 Sedbergh Road, adjacent to Junction 37 of the M6.
The Killington scheme was approved by South Lakeland District Council in January this year, but Banks decided to withdraw it during the summer in advance of a public enquiry that was due to be held in September after the planning application was ‘called in’ for determination by the Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government.
In July, Banks applied for permission to leave the test mast in place to gather further wind data as it considers whether a revised wind farm design for this location might be developed.
This application had received a recommendation for approval from South Lakeland District Council’s planning officers, but despite its previous support for the wind farm as a whole, the Council’s planning committee chose to reject it.
Banks conducted an extensive public dialogue around the Killington scheme over the last two years, and gathered a wide range of local backing for it, with more than 1,400 letters of support being submitted to the Council in advance of the original planning committee meeting.
A range of local economic, social and environmental benefits would have been delivered by the original Killington wind farm proposals, including a community benefits fund amounting to up to £1.25m over the 25-year lifespan of the scheme.
A new initiative that would have delivered fast broadband to the local area for the first time was also developed by Banks in response to the priorities expressed when local people were asked how the community benefits fund linked to the wind farm could best be allocated.
Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, says: “We were disappointed to be forced to withdraw the original Killington wind farm proposal, especially as it meant that all the much-needed benefits that it would have brought to the area had to go by the wayside too.
“We’re still considering our options for future alternative schemes that might be suitable at this site, and leaving the test mast in place would allow us to gather further wind data for use in the design of any future proposals that we decide to bring forward.
“Having had South Lakeland District Council’s officers support for our plan to leave the Killington test mast in place, we’re very disappointed that the members of the Council’s Planning Committee chose not to reiterate their previous support for the wind farm as a whole by agreeing with their officers’ recommendation.
“With many significant energy and environmental challenges facing the UK over the coming years, modern, efficient, indigenous onshore wind farms like Killington have a crucial role to play in generating more of the clean, green energy that we all use in our homes, schools and businesses.
“We will examine the precise reasons for this judgment before deciding upon the most suitable next course of action.”