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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Windfarm developer claims Allerdale council in ‘disarray’

Allerdale council could be ordered to pay extra costs for “unreasonable behaviour” amid claims that it is in “disarray”.

Potato Pot windfarm photo
Planning inspector John Braithwaite, centre, Steve Long, left, from Allerdale council and landscape expert Neil Furber

Related: Planning inspector blasts Cumbrian council over 'poor' windfarm case

The comments were made during a heated inquiry over controversial plans to build wind turbines higher than Big Ben near Workington.

London-based Airvolution Energy wants to put up three 328ft wind turbines at Potato Pot near Branthwaite.

David Hardy, representing the energy firm, said: “The council is in disarray. The case has been laboured, beset by basic mistakes and miscommunication between team members.

“It’s a really tortuous task at the end of this inquiry just to understand what the council’s case is.”

The inquiry was held in Workington this week following an appeal by Airvolution after Allerdale council failed to determine the application within the agreed time frame.

Mr Hardy submitted a costs application yesterday, after he said Allerdale council had behaved unreasonably throughout the three-day inquiry.

He said the council didn’t clearly state its case which Airvolution was expected to meet and, with no warning, attempted to alter its case after evidence had been exchanged.

He added that the applicant had to prepare additional evidence at short notice and spend a lot of time and expense to meet new ground.

Jonathan Owen, representing the council, said: “The council denies it’s acted unreasonably and wasted expenses.

“The costs application should be dismissed.”

The last day of the inquiry saw both sides give their closing statements.

Mr Owen reiterated the council’s argument that the proposal would have “significant” and “adverse” visual and landscape effects.

He referred to the potential impact on settlements and individual houses, visual effects from a stretch of the A595, and the landscape impact on the Lake District National Park.

Mr Hardy said the development would meet national renewable energy targets and would make a positive contribution to climate change.

Planning inspector John Braithwaite also heard from Michael Lonican, 69, of Branthwaite, who had been too upset to give evidence on the first day of the inquiry.

The widower, who lives alone, moved to the area several years ago with his wife Christine because of its beauty and tranquility.

Allerdale council has received 19 objections, including one from the county council. It has not had any letters of support.

The development would be visible from Gilgarran, Winscales, Pica, Distington, High Harrington, Ullock, and Dean. It would also be seen from Workington, Lamplugh, Lowca, Deanscales and Greysouthern, and from parts of the Lake District National Park.

After the closing statements, Mr Braithwaite visited the proposed site and neighbouring properties. He said a decision is expected in five to six weeks.

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