CONTROVERSIAL plans for a wind farm near the junction of the M1 and M18 in Rotherham have been deferred indefinitely.
A planning application for six new 132-metre turbines at Penny Hill in Ulley was expected to be rubber-stamped by Rotherham Borough Council’s Planning Board yesterday after the Government decided not to “call in” the scheme.
But the plans were deferred by councillors because it is understood that planning officers want to have another look at them.
No reason was given for the surprise deferral yesterday, but it may be partly down to the Government’s decision to scrap targets on renewable energy, which were part of its now-defunct Regional Spatial Strategies.
The wind farm application by Banks Developments was provisionally approved in May and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government decided not to “call in” that decision.
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A letter from the Government says: “The application does not, in the Secretary of State’s view, raise issues of more than local significance, which would require a decision by him.”
Almost 500 letters of objection were received by the authority before consent was granted in May this year.
A petition with 1,792 names was submitted by protesters, who said that the turbines would have an “unacceptable” effect on the green belt landscape, devalue local properties, have a detrimental effect on wildlife and ancient hedgerows in the area and affect people’s health.
Other campaigners said that the wind farm could prove a safety hazard as the turbines, which will generate electricity for the equivalent of about a tenth of Rotherham’s homes, could distract motorway drivers, affect TV reception and send house prices tumbling.
But more than 1,000 people registered their support for the turbines, which together will generate between 31,000 and 45,700 megawatt hours of electricity each year and save between 333,250 and 491, 275 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over a 25-year life span.
In a report to the meeting in which they backed the plans, officers said that “by way of their size, design and location and the open large scale nature of the landscape,” the turbines would not have an adverse effect on the green belt.
The planning report insisted that the turbines would not affect motorway safety or the amenity of nearby residents.
Members of Ulley Wind Farm Action Group said before the meeting that they were “disappointed” by the planners’ recommendation.
“Because the whole process was so poor, we feel so alienated from it all at a local level,” said a spokeswoman.
“All the issues were not raised at the planning board and now it has gone back to the same people.”
Lawyers called in to investigate decision
A LEGAL team has been appointed to probe the process which led to the project being provisionally passed by councillors.
Members of Ulley Wind Farm Action Group have been left left “disillusioned.”
Group chairman, Mike Corden, said: “After seeing the planning process in action I don’t think anyone could possibly believe that the people elected to properly consider planning issues have done so effectively in this case.”
Despite the project’s scale, just nine of the borough council’s 21-strong planning board—attended a meeting to decide its fate on May 26.
Mr Corden said: “We were left open-mouthed by the handful of elected councillors who turned out to make a decision on such a huge project.”
The borough council was asked to comment on Mr Corden’s claims but had not responded by the time the Advertiser went to press.
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