University wind turbine finally given green light

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Lancaster City Council approved the University’s application for an on campus wind turbine project on April 4. The application was a scaled-down resubmission of the one previously refused by the Council’s Planning and Highways Regulatory Committee.

The Committee approved the University’s application to build one 100 metre wind turbine on the east side of the M6 motorway instead of two as proposed in the previous application. The location and the size of the wind turbine remained the same in the resubmitted application.

After considering 23 public representations and planning officers’ presentation, the Committee voted 12-to-seven in favour of the application in the two-hour session.

Following the Committee’s decision, LUSU President Robbie Pickles said: “I am absolutely thrilled this application has passed. The University and LUSU have put a lot of hard work into making this happen. I look forward to seeing the energy savings passed on to reduced costs for students.”

Representing Lancaster University, its chief operating officer, Andrew Neal was among the six people who spoke in support the application at the planning meeting.

“The University is delighted that Lancaster City Council’s planning committee have approved this important project. The wind turbine will bring many local benefits, which include lowering carbon emissions in the area, and providing employment and contractor opportunities during construction,” Neal said in a statement issued after the planning hearing.

He added: “The project has received significant support both locally and throughout Lancaster, and the University would like to thank all those who expressed their support. The University’s success continues to benefit the wider community by bringing employment to the region, helping small to medium businesses and providing sporting and cultural opportunities.”

That planning permission for the £5m wind turbine project was granted subject to the submission of further information on mitigating TV and radio interference and other ecological matters raised in the meeting.

The project has received strong opposition from local residents living nearby the proposed wind turbine site. The initial application submitted by the University was refused on the grounds of proximity to residential properties with the nearest one only within 350 metres from one of the proposed turbines.

The Committee was presented that, in the resubmitted application, the most impacted residential property was about 500 metres away from the proposed wind turbine. It was in the planning officers’ view that proposed wind turbine was not regarded as “significant and overbearing.”

Vice Chairperson of Scotforth Parish Council Roberta Kerr, in her public representation, said: “This turbine would not be allowed in Scotland or Wales and many other European countries.” She added: “It is shocking that Lancaster University, having been refused permission for the previous application, is now applying for a single turbine with exactly the same impact […]. All the more shocking, the University should have even greater responsibility towards its closest neighbours.”

Kerr cited the requirements of separation distance of 2km between a wind turbine and housing in Scotland. In Wales similar standard requires separation distance of 500 metres. The Committee, as in hearing of the previous application acknowledged the lack of separation distance in England.

In response to opposition by local residents, Pickles said: “Local residents were bound to be concerned about the proximity the turbine has to their homes but the benefits to the economy of both the turbine, and the University in general, massively outweigh the disadvantages.”

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