Councillors urged to reject Woolfox wind farm plans

A representation of the RES Woolffox Wind Farm seen from Stretton Road, between Stretton and Clipsham. EMN-150403-122225001
A representation of the RES Woolffox Wind Farm seen from Stretton Road, between Stretton and Clipsham. EMN-150403-122225001
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Councillors have been advised to refuse an energy firm permission to build nine wind turbines on a disused airfield site.

Rutland County Council’s development control and licensing committee will consider RES’s application to develop the Woolfox Airfield site at a special meeting at Rutland County Museum at 6pm on Thursday, November 10.

MP Alan Duncan joins the opposition to Woolfox wind farm.

MP Alan Duncan joins the opposition to Woolfox wind farm.

The plans have attracted strong local opposition, and planning officers seem to have taken the views of the objectors on board. They have recommended that councillors refuse to grant planning permission because of the impact the turbines would have on the landscape and local heritage.

A separate application from RES to place solar panels on the same site is still being considered.

The meeting would normally be held at the council offices, but has been moved to the museum due to the considerable local interest. The council will operate a ticketing system to allocate seating for members of the public who want to attend.

The museum has a maximum capacity of 130 and tickets can be collected in advance from the council’s customer service area at Catmose. Any remaining tickets will be dispensed on a first-come, first-served basis at the meeting.

The meeting will also be shown live via a video feed on the Council’s website, www.rutland.gov.uk, with extra seating and screens available in the council chamber should the museum reach capacity.

If councillors support the officer’s recommendation and vote to refuse planning permission for the turbines, RES will have six months in which to lodge an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate.

RES development manager Chris Banks said: “While the recommendation for refusal is disappointing, RES has presented a strong case for re-invigorating the old Woolfox airfield site as a renewable energy hub while minimising the potential impacts, including satisfying concerns such as ecology, noise and aviation.

“The proposal has also attracted expressions of support from many local people and the contribution that the wind farm could make to the local economy during its lifetime runs into millions of pounds.

“We hope that the planning committee will give due weight to all these aspects and agree that, on balance, the proposed Woolfox Wind Farm will not only provide cleaner, home-grown electricity at a competitive cost, but will benefit the local economy and local people too.”

Campaigners set up the Woolfox Wind Farm Action Group to oppose the plans. Member Colin Ashpole said the group was “very pleased, but not surprised” by planning officers’ recommendation.

He added: “As a group we have always believed that there was a compelling case for refusal. This was based on a number of factors including the lack of national need, the small amount of electricity generated from this highly inefficient technology, and the adverse effects on the general nature of the environment.

“The development would have changed the nature of this particularly attractive part of Rutland for those who live nearby and importantly for those who visit. Wildlife would have been endangered, aviation activity threatened, and there would have been health risks associated with noise. Importantly there was huge local opposition to the project.”

The full planning application for Woolfox Wind Farm can be viewed on the development control pages of the council’s website (application reference 2014/1003/MAJ).