Gareth Wilson

Liberal Democrat Campaigner for Haddenham & Aldreth Learn more

Berry Fen Wind Farm

by Gareth Wilson on 4 April, 2014

The East Cambs Planning Committee met on Wednesday 2nd April to decide on a Planning Application for a 61metre anemometer.  The Case officer recommended approval. The Planning Committee is a quasi judicial committee, which must follow certain rules and the applicant can appeal the decision to a Government Inspector whose decision is final.  The Inspector can order costs to be paid if the decision goes against the District Council.

Committee members were driven round the site to view it from Aldreth Road and along The Boot, Dam Bank Drove and Long Drove to come out on the A1123 Hillrow Causeway.

The anemometer will be 61.5 metres high but only the width of a telegraph pole, held in place by guy wires. A short length of pole had been erected to help gauge the proposition and we had great difficulty in seeing it at all from the drove roads.

When the committee met at 2.00pm the officers told the committee that all the statutory bodies had been consulted.  NATS and the civil aviation authority (CAA) both had no problems so long as the guy wires are fitted with markers. The Environment Agency had no objection. The Ministry of Defence and the Highways Officer also had no objections.  The trees officer stated that there were no tree matters of concern.

Natural England was satisfied that the proposal is unlikely to have a significant effect on habitats and species including birds.  The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was content so long as bird deflectors were fitted on the mast.  The Conservation Officer stated that no substantial harm would be caused.

Pauline “called in” the application so that the issues could be discussed in public and spoke at the meeting explaining that local residents had contacted her with opinions both for and against the proposal.  She explained that the main concern was that if the mast was approved the Wind Turbines would follow.

Large numbers of local residents were present in the public gallery area.  Their main argument against the application was that this was just the forerunner to a further application for four giant wind turbines 131 metres high.

However, this application had to be judged on its own merits and The Planning Committee can only reject a planning application on planning grounds.  It was therefore inevitable that despite local objections, this particular application for an anemometer mast would be approved.   I could have sat through the entire meeting, said nothing and abstained, but that would have been the coward’s way and I was elected to do the right thing for East Cambs District Council.  I therefore voted for this application ensuring that this additional statement was recorded.

“The anemometer has been approved on the basis of an assessment of the temporary impacts associated with this particular type of development.  This decision does not in any way prejudice the future consideration of any application for wind turbines on this site.  Any such application would be considered on its own merits in accordance with local and National Planning Policy.”

The application was approved by eight votes for and one against.

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