Pickles rejects six-turbine Cambridgeshire scheme

The communities secretary has blocked an appeal against a Cambridgeshire council's failure to decide on a six-turbine wind farm after concluding that the development would fail to preserve the setting of listed buildings in the area.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles
Communities secretary Eric Pickles

Developer RWE Innogy UK Ltd had appealed against Huntingdonshire District Council’s non-determination of the application for six wind turbines along with associated infrastructure at a site north of the village of Bythorn and north east of Molesworth in Cambridgeshire.

A planning inspector then recommended that a split decision be issued with the appeal allowed in respect of three of the turbines but dismissed in respect of the other three.

But a decision letter issued this week said that, having recovered the appeal, the secretary of state, Eric Pickles, disagreed with the inspector’s conclusion and rejected all six turbines.

The letter said Pickles agreed with the inspector’s assessment of the renewable energy, economic and other benefits of the scheme.

It said Pickles also accepted the inspector’s conclusion that the six-turbine scheme would "diminish the visual prominence" of local church spires and their role as a landscape feature.

But it added that Pickles considered that the inspector’s comment "that that the reduced 3 turbine scheme would similarly have ‘limited impacts on the perception of church spires in the landscape’ underplays their adverse effects on the church spires as characteristic features of this part of Huntingdonshire".

It also said Pickles considered that the inspector’s comment that impacts on the setting of historic villages would be "much reduced" in a three-turbine scheme "overplays the reduction in harm" from a smaller scheme.

The letter concluded that, having regard also to the "considerable weight to be accorded to any failure to preserve the setting of listed buildings", as required by national planning policy, the secretary of state ruled that "overall that the benefits of the three-turbine scheme do not outweigh the identified harm. For this reason, the secretary of state has concluded that the three-turbine scheme should be dismissed".


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