Wind turbine proposal ‘too tall’ for national park

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A PLANNING application for a wind turbine has been turned down as too large for the protected landscape of the Peak District National Park.

The application was for a turbine 48.4 metres (159ft) tall from base to blade tip at its maximum height. That would be just three metres (10ft) short of Nelson’s Column – twice the height of any other turbine approved in a national park in England and Wales.

While supporting the need for renewable energy, the National Park’s planning committee decided a turbine this size would stand out too much on a protected landscape, harming its scenic beauty as well as historic field patterns.

It would be highly visible from public rights of way near the site, and also visible from the High Peak and Tissington trails and a wide radius around the area.

In addition, the proposed extent, layout and species of trees planted to shield the base would be incongruous in this open, sweeping landscape.

Applicant Robert Gosling said the turbine would be expected to generate 498 megawatts of electricity a year for his large dairy and beef operation at Hill Top Farm, Parwich, near Ashbourne. This big investment would help sustain the farm as a viable business, producing double its present annual demand for electricity, with the surplus providing income from the feed-in tariff.

His supporters spoke of the need to adapt to climate change, the importance of sustaining viable dairy farms and the changing perception of wind turbines, with many people viewing them as graceful additions to the landscape.

Planning committee chair John Herbert said: “We’re conscious of the need to find ways to keep local farms viable, and we do support the drive for green energy, but not all such schemes are suitable for a protected landscape like ours.

“We have supported individual turbines at several farm locations, but in this instance the turbine was simply too tall to be acceptable. We understand that the applicant has explored and dismissed alternatives, but we believe there may still be scope perhaps for a combination of technologies that would be less damaging to the national park landscape.”

The Authority had received 32 letters of support for the application from farming organisations and local people, with one objection from a resident. Friends of the Peak District and Natural England both said it was too large but they would support a smaller turbine.

The committee was conscious that this scheme could set a precedent, not only here but in other national parks, if approved.