September 17 2014 Latest news:
Story by: JOHN ELWORTHY
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
The Government has crushed Fenland Council’s guidelines by allowing a wind turbine at Knights End Road, March that was opposed by councillors, residents and the owner of a nearby small airfield.
Paul Griffiths of The Planning Inspectorate has ruled in favour of the 2012 application by Infinergy Ltd to erect the 102m tall turbine at Lower Botany Farm.
The council had used its 2009 turbines policy guidelines to refuse the application, claiming it would have “an adverse cumulative visual impact”.
March Town Council also opposed the application and Councillor Kit Owen told the planning committee there were too many on shore wind turbines already “particularly in this area. The turbine is too large and inappropriate for this site”.
One resident described the turbine as “a blot on the landscape” and another claimed “this once beautiful countryside which has been marred by these structures”.
But Mr Griffiths dismissed the opposition claiming that with so many turbines already, and others to follow, another “is not, and will not be, altogether incongruous”.
Norman Davies of Almond Drive owns Fenland Wind and Airsports Centre and presented Fenland planning committee with a 150 signature petition opposed to the wind turbine.
He claimed it would have safety implications, would impact on business, leisure and tourism and affect the local area financially.
Mr Griffiths accepted the concerns of Mr Davies for the paragliders and paramotors he operates from the airfield.
But he argued that the turbine at Lower Botany Farm would be far enough away to avoid any noise or safety conflicts.
“Beginner pilots would only fly at wind speeds below 15km/h,” said the inspector. “This is below the cut-in speed of most wind turbines and even if the wind turbine was turning, because of the disparity in wind speed between ground level and hub height, it would be generating very little power and thereby creating very little turbulence.”
Mr Griffiths said that during a conversation with Mr Davies he accepted the airfield would be able to “manage around” the turbine.
“That seems to me correct, “said Mr Griffiths. “Rather than presenting a hazard the wind turbine would simply act as a constraint on the airfield. I recognise that it would be more of a constraint than the existing dwellings nearby and the chicken sheds but nevertheless it would not be something that would limit the operation of the airfield to any significant degree.”
The inspector said the turbine would generate power for 350 homes and offset up to 1,374 tonnes of carbon dioxide; the benefits outweighed the disadvantages.