A COUNCIL which has spent nearly £1m contesting wind farm applications will find it hard to justify “throwing away” more taxpayers’ money if they lose a test case, it has been warned.
Residents have been waiting since an inquiry was held last July for Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to make a decision over controversial plans to build six turbines at Thornholme Fields.
East Riding Council has defended 13 appeals by developers over major wind farm applications since 2008, losing eight and winning just two, at a cost of around £70,000 per appeal, amounting to some £910,000.
Two other applications, for two turbines at Ivy House, Spaldington and six turbines at Welham Bridge, are also waiting a decision following appeals.
Some locals feel the East Riding is turning into a wind farm landscape, with over 200 large turbines approved, in the planning process or built plus numerous individual farm turbines.
Developers are now looking to extend large wind farms – with five more turbines planned at Lissett and four more 111m high turbines at Withernwick
Coun Symon Fraser said: “Thornholme really sets the tone; this is a massively important one for the future.
“How can we possibly have confidence spending council taxpayer money chasing appeals? If this particular one is allowed by the Secretary of State it really calls into question the approach we have taken with wind farms so far.
“If this one isn’t important to the landscape of the Wolds where do we go? It is increasingly difficult to effectively throw away taxpayers’ money at something at which we are having so little success.
“The cost of appeals varies but it ends up being tens of thousands each time and you have to question that.”
Coun Fraser said Mr Pickles had been quick to criticise local authorities over the time it takes to process a planning application but it had been a year since the applicants decided to appeal.
The decision has been delayed twice, first last October and then on January 7.
“Eric Pickles has been very forthright in criticising the speed of local authorities making planning decisions,” he said.
“He has highlighted that as one of the factors affecting the recovery of the economy and frankly that’s rubbish. You have to say if it is going to take a year to make a decision who is he to criticise?
“I just think the local community who has campaigned against this deserves an answer.”
The council refused planning permission for the scheme, which is 6km from Bridlington, on land between Thornholme and Woldgate, on the grounds it would have an unacceptable impact on the landscape and on the setting of Burton Agnes Hall.
One of the objectors said if built locals would not be able to go in any direction without being confronted “by industrial-sized turbine arrays – never mind the individual ‘farm’ turbines spreading like measles over the landscape”.
However, developers insist proposals like Thornholme are vital in the Humber area’s drive to develop the renewable sector.
Wind Prospect, Thornholme’s developers, say their mission is “to deliver sustainable power generation to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and to fight climate change”.
The Planning Inspectorate said the target date for a decision is February 18.
Comment: Page 16.