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Claughton Moor Wind farm plans revised, but still causing local concern

Author: 
John Freeman
Community Windpower Ltd has announced their new plans for Claughton Moor Community Windfarm have been re-submitted to Lancaster City Council - but concerned locals have asked for more time to consider the proposal before it is re-considered by the Planning Committee.

The new plans reduce the company's original proposals from 20 to 13 126 metre wind turbines and include a new Environmental Management Plan and community benefits package for the local area the company hopes will persuade the Council to accept the revised proposal.

Claughton Moor Community Windfarm is proposed for Claughton and Whit Moor, approximately 10 kilometeres east of Lancaster and would stand alongside the existing Caton Moor Windfarm which has been present in the Forest of Bowland AONB for the last 15 years.

Lancaster City Council's Planning Committee unanimously rejected the original proposal back in March, after the application attracted dozens of objections from people and groups concerned about its potential impact on the landscape and the value of local homes. The site falls within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is part of Claughton Moor County Biological Heritage Site.

Responding to the new plan, Hornby Parish Council has asked for an extension of the deadline for the submission of comments on the above application. "This is a highly contentious issue within the parish, and we will need to hold a public meeting before deciding how to comment," the Council says in its comments on the plan. "This will take some time to organise."

Objectors have questioned the resubmission, pointing out that the original plans stated 20 turbines were needed to make the project viable but now seem able to make it work with 13. Others remain steadfast in their previous concerns, raising environmental concerns, noise, worries about flood risk and potential harm to local wildlife.

The company says the original application submitted last year has been significantly revised and consequently reduced. The new proposal (ref: 10/01151/FUL) is for 13 wind turbines and would typically generate 39 megawatts (MW) of clean, green, locally sourced electricity.

The company claims electricity from the windfarm would annually power over 22,000 homes and would displace over 44,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year the windfarm is in operation. Development of the Windfarm would, they argue, also secure jobs and employment through the supply and construction of the windfarm
with an initial investment of £40million and a further £1.3million of local investment per annum.

Another major component of the proposal is the Environmental Management Plan which comprises of many and varied land management techniques to protect and enhance the natural environment and to ensure there is an overall net gain in terms of ecology and biodiversity.

The community benefits package has also been revised and will include the provision of a Community Trust Fund of £500,000 available to the four parishes of Claughton, Hornby-with-Farleton, Caton-with-Littledale and Roeburndale for educational, environmental and community projects. A Community Turbine would also be developed with the local communities, the profits of which would be transferred to another Trust Fund for local projects. There would be additional funding for environmental projects and enhancements and educational support including student bursaries, funding for school trips and an Educational Ranger. Energy efficiency advice and support would also still be available through BeGreen LowerLune.

“We have taken time to review the previous comments, undertake all the required additional survey work and conducted pre-application consultation with the Planning Department and key stakeholders to arrive at this redesigned proposal," says Senior Project Manager Mrs. Gillian Cropper. "The site is excellent in terms of wind speed, elevation, location, satisfaction of technical constraints and hence is an exceptional site to develop, adjacent to an existing windfarm”.

"Approval of the windfarm would maintain Lancaster District’s renowned position at the forefront of environmental issues with a significant contribution made in the battle against climate change and
would cement the Council’s commitment to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change."

The company is seeking a decision on its proposals by February 2011.

• To view the revised plans visit: www.communitywindpower.co.uk or the full details and associated documents on the City Council Planning site

Lancaster City Council's web site has details of the original plan and comments here

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