District Council and residents lose appeal over Helmdon wind farm
COUNTRYSIDE TO MAKE WAY FOR GREEN ENERGY
By Gavin Moore
Members of a rural action group are considering their next steps after a planning inspector paved the way for a wind farm near Helmdon.
Since 2010, residents of Helmdon, Stutchbury and Greatworth have been fighting plans by Broadview Energy Ltd for five wind turbines at Spring Farm Ridge, just off the B4525.
They found support in members of South Northants Council’s development control committee who followed their officers’ advice to refuse the application in June 2011 based on the countryside in the area.
An appeal against the refusal was lodged by Broadview in December and an eight day enquiry took place in May led by planning inspector Elizabeth Fieldhouse.
But despite several site visits and more than 25 people speaking against the wind farm, Mrs Fieldhouse upheld the appeal when she announced her findings last Friday.
She agreed with much of the SNC officers’ report there would be a ‘major impact on the landscape’, and a ‘considerable impact’ on heritage assets within 5km, resulting in the loss of a perception of tranquillity.
But Mrs Fieldhouse concluded the total impact would not outweigh the wider economic and environmental benefits and approved the proposal.
The report took into account the need to increase the amount of renewable energy generation in order to meet government obligations by 2020 and help reduce the impact of climate change.
Sarah Owen, spokesman for the Helmdon, Stutchbury and Greatworth Wind Action Group said they would meet this Sunday to consider Mrs Fieldhouse’s findings but added: “For some people there will be no escape. There’s one family in Stuchbury who have lived on a farm for four generations.
“It’s not just their home life, when they go to work it will be under these industrial turbines all day long.”
Councillor Stephen Clarke, chairman of the develop0ment control committee, said he was very disappointed and the council would also be considering what its next steps may be.
The Brackley & Towcester Advertiser – 20 July 2012