Wind turbine battle goes on despite expert advice

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THE council is set to push ahead with a legal battle against plans for 13 wind turbines near Peterborough despite "reluctantly" dropping the argument that they are an eyesore.

THE council is set to push ahead with a legal battle against plans for 13 wind turbines near Peterborough despite "reluctantly" dropping the argument that they are an eyesore.Renewable Energy Systems (RES) plans to put up six 100-metre turbines on Wryde Croft, two miles north west of Thorney. To the south, on a site known as Nutsgrove, WPR Wind Ltd, a joint venture between Wind Prospect Developments and Ridge Wind envisages raising seven 60-metre turbines.

The applications were turned down by the city council's planning committee last October, who cited the harmful impact on the landscape as one of the grounds for refusal. An appeal is now pending.

But at a town hall meeting yesterday, a letter from an expert advised committee members that defending their case on landscape grounds was "extremely weak" and it would not be successful at the forthcoming planning inquiry.

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Although the landscape objection was withdrawn by the committee, many councillors backed critics of wind turbines who claim they have a negative effect on the area.

Marshland Wind Farm Limited is revising its plans for a 57 Megawatt wind farm on land near Marshland St James, near Wisbech, allowing time for further community and stakeholder consultation.

The company has withdrawn its current planning application submitted to the Government for 19 wind turbines at Marshland St James but intends to submit revised plans during the summer of 2009.

Project manager for the Marshland Wind Farm development Richard Kowitz said: "We want to listen - carefully and respond to these concerns."

Cllr Chris Ash said: "The cumulative effect on the area is going to be (felt) somewhere along the line. We can't keep doing it. But I would reluctantly go with the recommendation."

Cllr Peter Hiller said: "I reluctantly feel we have to go with the officer's recommendation. I agree it's a personal view whether the landscape will be blighted or not. However, the letter is from an expert and it is unequivocal. He thinks the case would be weak with this item."

Helen and Duncan Goodber, who live in Thorney, said in a letter that the turbines would make them feel like they were "surrounded" and would turn the area into an "industrial landscape".

A letter from Tim New, from Fenland Against Rural Turbines, said the "incremental effect of existing wind turbines is quite disturbing".

However, two other reasons for refusal of the schemes will remain and planning officer Dale Barker said they would "form the meat" of the public inquiry on 9th June.

The Ministry of Defence advised the city council that the turbines could potentially interfere with its radar system and the other reason relates to the applicants not providing a satisfactory level of contributions towards renewable energy, wildlife and archaeological projects to mitigate the impact of the development on the landscape.