May date set for Public Inquiry into Local Windfarm proposal

410 feet high wind turbine of the type proposed for the Helmdon Stuchbury Greatworth scheme

A government planning inspector has been appointed to consider the appeal by Broadview Energy Limited against South Northants Council’s refusal of planning permission for the erection of five 125m (410 feet) high wind turbines between Helmdon and Greatworth and very close to houses at Stuchbury. The inquiry will commence on Tuesday 15th May at a venue yet to be announced and is expected to last for at least 8 days.

Whilst there is an intervening ridge in the 2000 metres between Sulgrave and the wind farm, the turbines are so high and the relative ground level differences so small that they would appear to completely dominate the horizon above the village when viewed from the north. This impact can be seen in this photo montage prepared from photographs taken from a viewpoint near to the old windmill on the footpath to Culworth.

A representation of how the turbines would appear from the Old Windmill, Sulgrave. "A" marks the top of the already erected meteorological mast and "B" the location of a blimp flown at turbine height.

Similarly, the impact on the eastern half of the village which is the setting for Sulgrave Manor would be as shown on this montage prepared from photos taken on the footpath to Barrow Hill:

A representation of how the turbines would appear from the Barrow Hill foopath. "X" indicates the top of the already erected meteorological mast and "M" the location of Sulgrave Manor.

The proposed location for each of the five turbines is shown on this map:

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service. Image reproduced by kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

The inquiry is basically a forum in which South Northants Council will defend its decision to refuse planning permission in the face of Broadview Energy’s contention that there are no valid reasons for such a refusal. Local groups such as the Helmdon, Stuchbury and Greatworth Windfarm Action Group will be allowed to appear, as will affected individuals.

The procedure is similar to a court case, with advocates for each side taking witnesses through their evidence, followed by cross-examination and re-examination, with an Inspector in the place of a judge. At the end of the hearing of evidence, the Inspector will visit all of the sites referred to during the inquiry, in the presence of both sides. He or she will then retire to consider the evidence and conclude whether to allow or dismiss the appeal. This verdict is expected on or about the 13th July.

The decision will be final and the only recourse of those aggrieved by it would be an appeal to the High Court on a point of law.

It is customary for the venue to be as close as possible to the site of the proposal so that affected parties can conveniently attend. It is important that those who oppose this hugely significant change in the character of the local countryside should attend as frequently as possible but particularly on the opening day. Whilst the Inspector is basically concerned with the collection of factual evidence, the presence of large numbers of concerned local people will not go unnoticed.

Villagers will recall that Sulgrave Parish Council unanimously objected to this proposal – see here for the reasons – and Chairman Graham Roberts appeared at the Council’s Committee Meeting to make the case on behalf of the village.

See here for South Northants Council’s reasons for refusing the application.

The Helmdon Stuchbury and Greatworth Windfarm Action Group campaigned vigorously against this proposal, with the support of the overwhelming majority of the residents of the affected villages. The group is currently in close contact with South Northants Council to determine the best courses of action to ensure that the necessary vital evidence is presented to the Inspector. See here for details on the Group’s website.


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