Leicestershire Campaign to Protect Rural England

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Melton's Rural Character Saved For Now

An application from Peel Energy and British Coal to erect 9 wind turbines at Asfordby was refused by Melton Council’s Development Committee on 26th July by 6 votes to 4. CPRE had campaigned with local residents against this proposal. 8 of the turbines would have been over 400 feet high. The 9th one would have been 350 feet high to its blade tip but sited on higher ground. Objections had been received from CPRE, STOP (Stop Turbines, Oppose Peel), English Heritage and Leicestershire County Council as well as 800 letters of objection.

 

CPRE Objections

CPRE was concerned about the significant adverse impact on the setting of several local heritage assets and the landscape character of the area. There are 2 Grade 1 Listed churches and 6 Grade 2 Listed churches and buildings including the ancient churches at Welby, Ab Kettleby, Wartnaby and Kirby Bellars. Church spires are the most prominent features in this historic landscape and their settings would have been adversely affected by these 9 tall rotating turbine blades.

In addition the turbines would have an unacceptable and harmful impact on the restored coal mine site which is now enjoyed as unspoilt and tranquil open countryside. The turbines would have been visible over a wide area and would have dominated the approaches to Melton Mowbray and the views across the Wreake Valley.

We were concerned also about the loss of amenity for residents and for visitors to the area. There are 300 homes and a school within 700 metres of the proposed turbines. The noise and movement of the blades would have introduced a major visual intrusion and undermined the tranquillity of the area.

 

Planning Judgement

The Planning Officers had recommended approval of the application. Their judgement was that under National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) the potential benefit from renewable energy outweighed the lower level of protection that could be given to the area as it does not benefit from any national designation, such as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

 

Pete Finch for CPRE

However, Pete Finch argued in his presentation for CPRE to the Committee that locally valued landscapes can be given protection under the NPPF. He argued that “the National Policy Statement for Energy (EN1) also says that there should be a presumption in favour of the conservation of heritage assets and that the greater the negative impact on them, the greater the benefits that will be needed to justify approval. In this case, CPRE does not believe that the benefits will be so significant as to outweigh the very adverse impact on the settings of these heritage assets and that the Officer’s report has not given sufficient weight to the protection of these heritage assets and their setting.”

 

Refusal

The application was refused on the grounds that the possible benefits of the proposal were outweighed by the substantial harm that the turbines would have on the setting of the local heritage assets and the distinctive character of the wider landscape. It is now open to Peel Energy to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against this decision. Residents anxiously await further developments.

View across the Wreake Valley

 

 A view across the Wreake Valley and Asfordby to the proposed location of the turbines on the skyline. At approximately 400ft to blade tip, the 9 turbines will be widely visible and prominent in the landscape.

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