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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Plans for giant turbines in Cumbria resubmitted as firm claims government got sums wrong

Government number-crunchers got their sums wrong over a controversial wind farm scheme, developers claim.

Wind turbine exhibition photo
EDF project development manager Margaret Hanson talks to wind turbine supporter Mark Moodycliffe

The proposed project at Beck Burn Peat Works was rejected by Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities, in May over concerns that vibrations could adversely affect nuclear test monitoring equipment at Eskdalemuir in Dumfriesshire.

EDF Energy Renewables has now resubmitted the plans after it said that the original calculations were incorrect.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had claimed that the turbines would affect the equipment at their site in Eskdalemuir but Tony Scorer, EDF’s head of onshore wind development, said it could cope with more ground vibration.

He said: “The Eskdalemuir Working Group found out the calculation was wrong in the first place and there is 75 per cent more budget than anybody thought. The reason we were originally refused we believe no longer exists.”

Mr Scorer was speaking at a public exhibition outlining the resubmission which was held in Longtown Community Centre in Arthuret Road on Wednesday.

The application is for nine, 126-metre-high to the tip, wind turbine generators – each three times the height of Carlisle’s Civic Centre.

Margaret Hanson, the project development manager, said that representatives from both Kirkandrews-on-Esk parish council and Springfield and Gretna Green community council had attended as well as residents. She said that the plans were basically the same as the original application but changes had been made to community benefits.

“The parish councillors were very interested in the resubmission and hearing more on Eskdalemuir. They were very interested in the community fund,” she said. “There are no major changes but the community fund has been increased.”

Mark Moodycliffe, from Thornhill near Dumfries, visited the exhibition and said he was in favour of the scheme. He said: “It will be good for the area and will bring some local employment to Longtown. We only found out about it when there was a flyer through the door. I am pro-wind farms anyway – I always have been and I am all for them.”

As well as the turbines the development also includes: transformer housings, a control room, an 80m-high meteorological mast, crane pads and access tracks.

A change of use to mixed use is being proposed which would comprise operational peat works and the wind farm development.

After members of Carlisle City Councillors refused planning permission EDF appealed – a public inquiry took place in October and December last year.

The appeals were recommended for approval by the Planning Inspectorate, but Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, dismissed them.

Many Longtown residents had previously objected to the wind farm, claiming it would damage scenery and the tourism industry.

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