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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Living near turbines is ‘mental torture’, Carlisle inquiry told

Living in the shadow of a windfarm is “mental torture”, the inquiry into plans for three wind turbines at Cumwhinton heard.

Ron Williams, who lives half a mile north of Wharrels Hill windfarm at Bothel, said he takes sleeping tablets because of the noise and pain killers to ease headaches brought on by flashing from the blades.

He said: “When the wind is from the south east or south west, the impact of the relentless and repetitive swish-swish noise is mental torture.

“I suffer despair each night from anxiety before retiring wondering whether [the turbines] are going to start.”

Mr Williams was giving evidence on the second day of a local public inquiry into proposals for three 377ft-high turbines at Newlands Farm, near M6 junction 42.

Bolsterstone Innovative Energy is appealing against Carlisle City Council’s decision to refuse planning permission last year.

Mr Williams showed the inquiry a home video demonstrating the strobe effect of sunlight through the turbine blades in his living room, kitchen and a bedroom.

He said reflections from the blades were akin to the flashing of car headlights.

And he predicted that the effects in Cumwhinton, where turbines would be taller and closer to people’s homes, would be “three times worse”.

John Mallinson, of Holme Meadow, Cumwhinton, argued that in most of Europe turbines are not allowed within 1,500m of residential property.

He said: “In Cumwhinton we have 100 [homes] within 1,000m and five within 500m.

“Only 12 miles up the road in Scotland, this would not be allowed because of its proximity to the village.”

Dalston city and county councillor Trevor Allison was worried that the scheme would set a precedent.

He urged inspector Paul Griffiths, who is chairing the inquiry: “Go to west Cumbria and see how it is disfigured by wind turbines.”

Earlier, planning consultant Lydia Lewis appeared as an expert witness to defend Carlisle City Council’s decision to refuse consent.

She argued that the turbines would have a “serious and adverse visual impact” and would cause “unacceptable harm” to the landscape.

She said: “Given the close proximity of the development to residential property and the urban edge of Carlisle, it would have a harmful impact on the living conditions of local residents”.

But under cross examination from Bolsterstone’s barrister, Vincent Fraser QC, Mrs Lewis conceded that the inquiry had to give “significant weight” to figures showing Cumbria was well behind government targets for renewable-energy generation.

And, to gasps from members of the public, she agreed with Mr Fraser that there was no evidence to show “the proximity to residential development is material”.

Councillors refused planning consent in 2008 – against the advice of planning officers – arguing that the turbines would be “seriously detrimental” to the landscape.

But Mr Fraser said: “It is quite clear the sorts of [adverse] impacts being made here are not sufficient to outweigh the benefits [from renewable energy].”

The inquiry, at Carlisle Civic Centre, is scheduled to end today but could be extended because so many objectors want to speak.

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