The Kirkby Moor windfarm

The Kirkby Moor windfarm

Campaigners have welcomed planners’ decision to turn down an application to replace turbines at an existing windfarm with ones more than twice the height.

RWE Innogy wanted to replace 12 existing structures near the southern boundary of the Lake District national park with six much larger ones.

But South Lakeland District Council rejected the bid.

RWE said the existing turbines are coming to the end of their working life. It proposed to ‘repower’ the Kirkby Moor site with half a dozen 115m-high turbines, more than 2½ times the height of the old ones.

The Friends of the Lake District said: “While recognising the importance of renewable energy development in providing clean energy sources, membership charity Friends of the Lake District believes that this proposal would have had a significant detrimental impact on the landscape and, in particular, the setting of the Lake District national park.”

The site lies south-east of Broughton in Furness, just outside the national park boundary.

Laura Fiske, planning officer at Friends of the Lake District, said: “Six 115m-tall turbines would have been inappropriate and intrusive in this location and massively out of scale with their surroundings, flashing over a skyline from more distant viewpoints.

“The development threatened to impact on some of our most iconic views including many Lake District peaks such as the Old Man of Coniston, Black Combe and Kentmere as well as views from Coniston Water and Kirkstone Pass.

“We are very grateful for the support offered by the local community in dealing with this application and would like to extend our thanks to them.”

RWE said almost 800 people from across South Lakeland and visitors to the area wrote to the council in support of the plans to repower Kirkby Moor windfarm.

It said plans would involve removing the 12 existing turbines and replacing them with six more modern, productive turbines. RWE Innogy UK’s said its renewable developer Chris Gainey and his team spent three months talking to people from across South Lakeland to find out what they think about the plans for wind farm.

Speaking before the decision, Mr Gainey said: “I am really enthused having talked to people about our plans to repower Kirkby Moor. We have seen first-hand that there is a high level of support which reflects the findings of the Government’s surveys on the attitudes of the public which found that 68 per cent of the public support onshore wind with only 10 per cent against.

“Local residents and tourists alike understand the environmental and economic benefits the wind farm would bring to the area.”
RWE said the site is believed to be one of the best locations for a wind farm in the UK.

Friends of the Lake District said the charity’s views were supported by other organisations and community groups at the committee meeting. The application prompted objections from Cumbria County Council and the Lake District National Park Authority as well as the Ministry of Defence.

Friends of the Lake District submitted an objection to the application in May of this year highlighting its areas of concern. It said the proposal would result in unacceptable visual harm to the landscape due to the magnitude of change of the turbine size compared to the existing turbines on Kirkby Moor.

The development would have a significant adverse impact upon local landscape character including on the setting of the Lake District national park, it said, not least by reason of the cumulative impact from nearby planned wind turbines, those already built and others under construction, along with the proposed route of the National Grid North West Coast Connections pylons.

The charity said the visual impact arising from the development in such close proximity would result in significant harm to the landscape of the national park. It added that the proposal would affect nature conservation interests of the site of special scientific interest and on recreational activities on Kirkby Moor and into the Lake District national park including quiet contemplative opportunities on nearby fells and Coniston Water and locally cherished viewpoints including The Hoad and Birkrigg Common.

The Friends added that the existing windfarm on Kirkby Moor is due for decommissioning in 2018 and the removal of the 12 existing turbines will result in a net benefit for the landscape of Kirkby Moor and the Lake District national park.

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