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You can read below an extended version of the report from Councillor Sanderson.
Public Inquiry regarding The Kirkby Moor Wind Farm
Zephyr Investments Ltd demanded the Public Inquiry, allowed under The Town and Country Planning Act 1990, to Appeal the decision of South Lakeland District Council to refuse an Extension of Time for the existing wind turbines which elapsed on 26th August 2018. Mitch and I attended several days from the 22nd January and gave evidence to the Public Inquiry at Ulverston on 30th January.
The content was very dry with hours of legal wrangling between the advocate representing Zephyr Investments and SLDC planners. Zephyr were looking for legal loopholes in the current planning regulations and hoping to set new presidents for the less regulated repowering rulings. Under the current regulations the wind farm would not be approved due to environmental, SSSI status, landscape, local population density and power output restrictions. Zephyr steered well clear of these arguments, instead they concentrated on the lack of regulation about repowering existing wind farms. This could become a test case.
Planning for the Kirkby Moor Wind Farm was only finally agreed in 1994, by Government, for a time limited period, as a test for the then new wind technology. A time period of 25 years in operation was imposed due to the location of the site and relaxation of some planning restrictions. Zephyr’s argument was that local residents had become used to the windmills and would not object to them staying powered until the Government stopped the pay in tariff for the green energy they generated. With some of the extra money generated and given an extra 12 months to complete the work they would ringfence a sum of money to provide an enhanced process of decommissioning and restoration works to take place and not just remove the windmills, which is all they are required to do under 1994 planning approval.
Zephyr’s Advocate questioned Matt Brereton intensely when he spoke about the mistrust many of his constituents had in the promises being made by the appellants.
The Green Party also gave evidence which acknowledged the insignificant amount of energy produced by these out dated, inefficient turbines but argued that they were things of beauty and any amount of green energy helped towards decreasing global warming. I hope if the appeal is dismissed The Green Party will give support to have Kirkby Moor re-instated to a condition to enable it to recover quickly and even improve from its former state. Burlington Slate have said when they decommission the quarry, they will return the moor to a state recommended by current regulation.
Zephyr Investments Ltd. are classified as a Holding Company employing between 10 and 50 people with a turnover of between £2 and £10 million. Kirkby Moor Wind Farm is a significant part of their portfolio.
Lastly in his round up the Inspector said that in all the wind power planning cases he had listened to, and he had dealt with numerous, the participants on both sides were the most courteous, polite, reasoning and intelligent he had ever come across. Our advocate Geoff Sinclair said to me he had a good feeling about the outcome, and I will feel we have done the best we could regardless of the result.