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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Defence ministry set to drop objection to wind turbines plan

Defence chiefs are poised to lift barriers and clear the way for a controversial windfarm.

Hallburn Farm photo
Hallburn Farm

The Ministry of Defence had a previously planned project for a site near Longtown stopped because the scheme would affect its work for the United Nations.

But updated academic research means that objection is likely to be lifted – allowing a new application for six 415ft-high (126.5m) masts at Hallburn Farm to go ahead.

Members of Carlisle City Council’s development control panel are being recommended to approve the application – subject to the MoD’s opposition being dropped – when they meet on Friday.

That recommendation comes despite objections from an MP and environmentalists, highlighting fears that the scheme could bring with a financial blow by having an adverse effect on the environment and tourism.

REG Windpower’s original plans for Hallburn were rejected by city councillors in 2011.

The firm appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, who ruled that it should go ahead – only for Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to overrule in the light of claims the turbines would affect nuclear test monitoring equipment at their Eskdalemuir station, near Langholm.

In response to the latest proposals, however, the MoD says new research suggests modern turbines would not have the impact that experts previously thought

A report to councillors states: “The MoD has confirmed it intends to withdraw an objection concerning any impact on the operational functionality of the Eskdalemuir Seismological Recording Station.”

Opposition, however, remains.

Nearly 70 letters and emails objection to the proposals have been lodged with the council – albeit with 60 expressions of support.

Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart is among the opponents, who also include campaign group Friends of Cumbria’s Rural Environment.

Members of Kirkandrews parish council are worried issues brought about by noise and flickering from the turbines could bring them health and safety issues.

Others have also questioned whether the masts could have an impact on property prices.

But the report to councillors states: “No meaningful evidence has been submitted supporting a general correlation showing that the proposal would lead to demonstrable harm on tourism and property values.”

The Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) group remains opposed.

The recommendation for approval to councillors is subject to a letter from the MoD confirming its latest position along with other legal and technical details.

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