Anemometer Masts Planning Applications Approved

By stoplenchwickwindfarm | April 2, 2009

Wychavon District Council, Development Control Committee Meeting, Thursday 2nd April 2009

After discussions on the two planning applications lasting just over 1 1/2 hours, Wychavon Development Control Committee today approved the planning applications for 70 m high anemometer masts to be erected close to Sherriff’s Lench and Norton.

Dr Rod Stroud, Chairman of VVASP spoke against the Sherriff’s Lench application and Chris Burr a resident of Norton spoke against the Norton application, Mike Phillips of Dulas spoke for both applications on behalf of Dulas, as consultants to ScottishPower Renewables.

Whilst it was acknowledged by all that these applications have to be considered as a completely separate entity from any other application that may come forward for a windfarm on the site, it is difficult to separate the two.

This difficulty is further exacerbated by the fact that ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) in their application state that the purpose of the masts is to gather wind data to determine the viability of a windfarm, they then consistently and persistently refer to the windfarm development throughout their application.

Of particular note is that during his presentation Mr Mike Phillips of Dulas, the company representing SPR then contradicted his application when he went on to say that through the data that SPR had already collected from “NOABL” (The UK Wind Speed Database), and the Wind Energy Atlas for Europe, they had already ascertained that a windfarm at this location was commercially viable, and that the anemometers where only needed in order to choose the exact specification and location of the proposed turbines.

Mr Phillips went on to say that they the anemometer masts were only really needed for about 4 months to be able to do this.

Of particular note is that the Government’s Planning Document PPS 22 states

Assessing whether a particular site will harness wind power satisfactorily entails using historical meteorological data (available from the Meteorological Office) and information derived from anemometers placed on site. Anemometer masts are normally required on a site for at least 12 months; the longer measurements are taken the better the predictions will be. The measurements from the anemometers help to determine whether or not a candidate site is suitable and, if it is, the measurements help to determine the best position for the wind turbines within the site’s boundary

When specifically questioned on the time required, for data collection prior to submitting an application for a windfarm, Mike Phillips on behalf of  SPR would give no reassurance for compliance with this guideline and re-iterated that they had all the data they needed to ascertain the commercial viability, when pushed as to why they were needed at all, he re-iterated that it was to refine location and specification, when asked again for the minimum period of time that they needed to collect this data, on this instance he gave no answer.

Mike Phillips went on to re-iterate that they would expect to be submitting a planning application for a windfarm in a few months time, that the originally scheduled date of June/ July had slipped, however it would follow shortly thereafter.

Also of key importance was a point raised by Dr Rob Stroud when he highlighted  Wychavon’s own Local Plan policy ENV1 which states that

Proposals for development must demonstrate that they are informed by and sympathetic to landscape character and will be required to respect or enhance the character of the land in which they are proposed

Of further note was an item raised by one of the councillors regarding the Archaeology of the site, the councillor was advised that there were no issues, indeed in the covering documents, an extract from letters received from Worcestershire County Council, Historic Environment and Archaeology Service was included which stated,

I have checked the County Historic Environment Record and this application affects a site of archaeological interest (WSM38581, Statutory Instruments 1988 No. 1813). The ‘historic environment’ encompasses all those material remains that our ancestors have created in the landscapes of town and countryside. It includes all below and above-ground evidence including buildings of historic and architectural interest.
While of apparently low impact in terms of ground disturbance, each temporary mast requires a number of deeply buried stays to provide appropriate support. The Lenches are known to contain prehistoric and Romano British occupation sites, however there extent are currently poorly documented.
In this instance it is believed, on current evidence, that the scale of proposed development is not of such significance to warrant pre-determination evaluation, and that a the potential impact of the proposed development on the historic environment can be appropriately mitigated by a conditional programme of archaeological work (watching brief).

What was omitted from the documentation presented to councillors was the following paragraph, requesting a condition on the application:

Such arrangements for the recording of a site of historic interest can be secured by the application of a negative condition as outlined in Planning Policy Guideline 16. Appropriate wording of this condition for use on formal decision notices is given below.
"No development shall take place until the applicant has secured the implementation of a programme of archaeological work in accordance with a written scheme of investigation which has been submitted by the applicant and approved by the Planning Authority".
It will be the applicant’s responsibility to contract an appropriate archaeological organisation to undertake the programme of works (watching brief) as outlined in the brief (available upon request should the local planning authority grant planning permission).
The Planning Advisory Section of the Historic Environment and Archaeology Service will offer advice on all stages of the proceedings. I would be pleased to attend a meeting with you and the applicant to discuss this matter. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Despite the extensive discussion by the councillors and many concerns and questions raised by them relating to provision of data, length of time, and archaeological impact, based on the recommendation and firm direction from the Planning Officer, both applications where passed with no conditions applied.

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