Government decisively rejects Hemswell Cliff wind farm proposals

A proposed wind farm at Hemswell Cliff north of Lincoln has been dismissed for good by central government.

The final decision was made by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark, who considered that the scheme for eight turbines on agricultural fields between the A15 (Ermine Street) and B1398 (Middle Street) to be unsuitable.

Reasons for the refusal focused on the size and proximity of the development to heritage sites such as Norton Place, potential harm to archaeological sites, and the visual impact of the scheme.

The news has been welcomed by many local residents who have consistently campaigned against the plans.

Campaigners for and against the wind farm signs at the special planning meeting at Lincolnshire Showground in October 2013.

Campaigners for and against the wind farm signs at the special planning meeting at Lincolnshire Showground in October 2013.

Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh, who has also been a vocal critic of the proposals for the last three years, said: “I’m delighted that the minister has backed local residents as well as the original, unanimous decision of West Lindsey District Council’s Planning Committee.

“We owe a lot to people in and around the villages of Hemswell Cliff, the Villages of the Cliff Against Turbines campaign group, and the planning committee of the district council for their strength and determination in securing this result.

“The government has been keen to ensure that local decision-making is backed up and that big energy companies don’t prolong the process through expensive appeals.

“This is an excellent result and will help preserve the beauty of our Lincolnshire countryside.”

Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh

Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh

Renewable energy company RWE Innogy UK Ltd originally submitted plans for the erection of a 10 turbine wind farm, which would have generated 20 to 25 megawatts (MW), enough to meet demands of 11,600 homes each year.

The plans were unanimously rejected by councillors on West Lindsey District Council, with more than 350 residents attending the special planning committee meeting at the Lincolnshire Showground on October 30, 2013.

The energy firm appealed the council’s decision and the Planning Inspectorate began the process for a public inquiry.

The applicant also decided to submit a revised proposal to reduce the number of turbines to eight.

In July 2014, the previous Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles intervened, calling in the application for his determination.

The planning committee at the council considered the alternative scheme two months later and a public inquiry was held over eight days in late January and into early February 2015.

Photo: Vattenfall

Photo: Vattenfall

This latest decision follows the recent abandonment of a proposed wind farm at Nocton Fen by Swedish energy company Vattenfall, who cited the government’s changes to onshore wind planning in England as one of the key reasons for its withdrawal.