Controversial wind farm project given go-ahead by Government

Controversial plans for a wind farm in Rotherham, near the junction of the M1 and M18 motorways have been given the nod by the Government.

In May this year, Rotherham Council granted planning permission for six new 132-metre (433ft) turbines at Penny Hill in Ulley, but had to refer the application to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for approval.

The Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber has now written to Rotherham Council saying that the Secretary of State does not intend to "call-in" the authority's decision for scrutiny – meaning that the development can now go ahead after being given formal consent later this week.

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The letter from the Government says: "Having carefully considered the relevant planning issues raised by this proposal, together with all the representations received, the Secretary of State has concluded that his intervention would not be justified.

"The application does not, in the Secretary of State's view, raise issues of more than local significance, which would require a decision by him."

The planning application for the wind farm, which was submitted by Banks Developments, has now gone back to Rotherham Council for a final review before planning permission is formally issued at a meeting on Thursday, August 12.

Banks managing director Phil Dyke said: "It's clearly good news that our Penny Hill proposals have passed this latest stage of the planning process without the need for further review.

"The first annual energy statement released by the Government last week clearly highlighted the need to place greater emphasis on generating power from renewable sources, and the Penny Hill scheme will be an excellent example of how this can be achieved.

"We hope the final planning approval for Penny Hill will be issued in the near future and will continue to work with all stakeholders in the area to achieve this goal as soon as we can."

Prior to Rotherham Council initially giving the wind farm consent earlier this year, the planning application was the subject of almost 500 letters of objection.

A petition bearing 1,792 signatures was also submitted by protesters, who said the turbines would have an "unacceptable" effect on the green belt landscape, would devalue local properties, would have a detrimental effect on wildlife in the area and would affect people's health.

Other campaigners said the wind farm could prove a safety hazard as the turbines, which will generate electricity for the equivalent of about a tenth of Rotherham's homes, could distract motorway drivers.

However, more than 1,000 people had also registered their support for the Penny Hill turbines, which will together generate between 31,000 and 45,700 megawatt hours of electricity each year and save between 333,250 and 491,275 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over its 25-year life span.

Planning officials also backed the plans, saying that the benefits of the turbines would outweigh their visual impact on the surrounding Green Belt landscape.

In their report which is set to go before Thursday's meeting, when the plans will be finalised, the town planners say: "It is considered that, by way of their size, design and location and the open large scale nature of the landscape, the proposed turbines will not have a materially adverse effect on the landscape.

"It is considered that the proposed turbines will not have an adverse effect on the safety of users of the M1 and M18 motorways. It is also considered that, subject to the recommended conditions, the development will not result in any material adverse effect on the amenities of nearby residents."