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Secretary of State intervenes over Hemswell Cliff wind farm

Plans for a wind farm at Hemswell Cliff face another hurdle as the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles has called in the application for “his determination”.

This means that the plans by RWE Npower Renewables for the wind farm just north of Lincoln could be completely rejected without a final decision from the Planning Inspectorate.

As previously reported, plans for a wind farm in the area were unanimously rejected by the West Lindsey District Council Planning Committee in October 2013.

This came after strong opposition from local residents, with the planning meeting being held at the EPIC Centre in Lincolnshire Showground due to high interest.

The proposal was originally for ten turbines and ancillary infrastructure to generate 20 to 25 megawatt (MW), enough to meet demands of 11,600 homes each year.

The maximum blade tip height would have been 126.5m, with turbines placed across agricultural fields between A15 (Ermine Street) and B1398 (Middle Street).

However, since the rejection, RWE Npower Renewables has come back with a revised proposal for the farm.

Its appeal requested to be heard through a public inquiry, held later this year.

The plans also state there will now only be eight wind turbines, and the temporary construction compound relocated.

MP for Gainsborough Edward Leigh said: “I have had a letter from Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, letting me know that he has called in the Hemswell Cliff wind farm for his determination.

“With the decision in Eric’s hands, I am very confident we will have a result which reflects the very strong opposition this proposal has faced.

“I have visited the site, spoken to local parish councillors, and read the letters in my inbox. Local residents and other concerned parties are almost entirely against it.

“While a rejection isn’t in the bag yet, it’s testament to the hard work put in by Villages of the Cliff Against Turbines and others to make sure this devastating proposal doesn’t go through.

“West Lindsey was completely right in refusing the application, and Eric Pickles has been vocal in backing up local decision-making,” he said.

Still positive

Neil Parnell, NWE’s developer for the site, said: “Onshore wind is one of the most cost-effective low carbon technologies available and is supported by a staggering 70% of the population according to the recent Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) tracker1.

“If consented Hemswell Cliff Wind Farm could supply the equivalent of between 10,000 and 15,0002 homes per annum with cleaner, greener energy.

“In addition, we expect the wind farm to bring around £10m of investment through UK construction contracts and a further cash injection of around £100,000 into local community projects each year. RWE as a company is strongly dedicated to maximising local economic benefit, jobs and planning gain for the local community.”

“The site is ideal for a wind farm with excellent road access, good wind speeds and a suitable connection to the electricity grid. It has been designed in such a way it won’t interfere with the amenity of the local community, who we have consulted with extensively.

“Whilst we are aware of the local MP’s opposition to the wind farm we are confident Eric Pickles will determine the application in line with planning policies, taking account of the planning merits of the scheme, as he is legally obliged to do so.

“This proposal deserves to be granted planning permission, with all the local economic and wider environmental benefits that will flow from that.”