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Saturday, 02 August 2014

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Investigation into why Allerdale has almost two-thirds of Cumbria’s wind turbines

An investigation has been launched into why Allerdale has so many wind turbines after it was revealed it has 62 per cent of Cumbria’s total.

The probe got underway after councillor Bill Finlay questioned why Allerdale played host to so many.

He questioned why just 38 per cent of Cumbria’s turbines were scattered across the county’s other five districts and Allerdale had nearly two thirds.

At a meeting of Allerdale council’s scrutiny sub committee, Mr Finlay, who represents Aspatria, said that while he was not against renewable energy or wind turbines they had to be situated in the right areas and he had had objections from people living in his ward.

He added: “There is a great discrepancy in the number of turbines in Allerdale compared to other districts and the figures are quite stark.”

According to Cumbria County Council, the most recent figures on the numbers of wind turbines show that the county has 102 onshore turbines, with another 18 under construction, and 90 offshore and another 206 with consent.

During 2012, Allerdale council received more than 100 applications for more.

The council investigation will look at data on turbine applications, refusals and appeals and the other five local planning authorities would do the same, the meeting heard.

Investigations will then look at how many turbine applications had needed environmental impact assessments and whether previous applications had included turbines that did not produce as much energy as they were predicted to.

Mr Finlay said: “We shouldn’t have these industrial machines if we are not getting the full benefit of them.”

The investigation comes after county council leader Eddie Martin wrote to energy and climate change minister John Hayes last November, urging him to stop the march of turbines that he believes could damage the countryside and the economy.

He was concerned about another 395 turbine applications which are in the pipeline and said he ‘failed to see’ how they would benefit Cumbria’s economy in the long term.

Kevin Kerrigan, head of development services, said that, although the Allerdale investigation would place extra pressure on officers, gathering the information was a priority.

It was estimated that it would take around four weeks for all the local planning authorities to gather their data and then a further four weeks for analysis and presentation of it.

The scrutiny panel will consider the report before it goes before the council.

It was estimated that the report could go forward in May but was hoped it might be sooner.

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