Lamonby wind farm plan dropped for now

Date: Friday 6th March 2009
Bob Whiteley project developer for the Lamonby windfarm site shows chair of COLT Ruth Walsh advantages of windpower.
Bob Whiteley project developer for the Lamonby windfarm site shows chair of COLT Ruth Walsh advantages of windpower.

OPPONENTS of a proposed wind farm at Lamonby, near Penrith, expressed delight that a planning application which was due to go before Eden councillors later this month has been scrapped.

Controversial proposals by E.ON UK for five 100m-high wind turbines were due to be considered by Eden planners on 19th March. However, the company confirmed this week that the application had been withdrawn because of an objection from an “individual private company”.

But while opposition group Communities Opposing Lamonby Turbines (COLT) welcomed the news, E.ON UK has insisted it does not plan to abandon its intention to create a wind farm near the village.

“Around a week ago we were made aware of a potential objector to the wind farm,” said a company spokesman. “To go through the process properly we have decided to withdraw the application for now to see if we can work through the objection and resubmit it at a future date. We are certainly not abandoning it and we certainly remain committed to what is a good project in a good location.”

E.ON UK initially wanted eight turbines at Lamonby but later reduced that number to five. A planning application was originally submitted in 2005 and it had taken almost four years to reach planning committee stage before this week’s withdrawal.

A substantial campaign by COLT has resulted in more than 700 letters of objection submitted against the plans. However, the issue has been clouded by arguments between the developer and opponents, with accusations of the public being misled having been made by both sides.

Ruth Walsh, COLT chairman, said group members had been gearing themselves up for the planning meeting when they received the welcome if a little “unexpected” news.

“We hope that E.ON has realised what COLT has maintained all along that this is not a suitable area for a turbine development and that it will not consider applying again in the future.

“The residents of this village and the wider locality have consistently shown that they do not want a wind farm here. There are still proposals on the table for Berrier Hill and Grise, both of which are very close to Lamonby, and COLT will be lending its support to both of those campaigns as they move to the inquiry stage later this year,” she said.

In environmental terms there were far greater gains to be made in Cumbria through a well-resourced program of energy conservation and innovative ideas such as “the anaerobic slurry digester scheme recently featured in the local press”.

“Covering the county in wind turbines is not the answer it harms tourism, costs jobs and ruins some of the most valuable landscapes in the country,” she added. “The COLT committee would like to thank all the hundreds of people who objected to the Lamonby wind farm and worked tirelessly for the campaign.”

l Meanwhile, proposals for another wind farm development, near Shap, appear to be in the pipeline. A meeting of Sleagill Parish Council was told that a site between Sleagill and Reagill had been identified and a number of local farmers approached.

Pure Renewable Energies confirmed this week that it was assessing a number of sites for their “technical and commercial viability” for wind farm development.

A spokesman for the firm said: “We wish to take all stakeholder views into consideration before deciding whether or not to submit a planning application. We have submitted a request to Eden District Council to establish the information that will be required to support any future planning application.

“At this early stage of the development process it would be premature to enter into discussions on specific sites. Should we decide to go ahead with a planning application then we will of course engage in full public consultation as part of the planning process.”

On its official website, Pure Renewable Energies, which has been established in the North East since 2005, says it is “developing a portfolio of wind farms, taking our projects through the life cycle from initial site assessment, planning application, finance, construction, operation and maintenance to decommissioning.”