Kirkby Moor wind farm secures new lease of life

An appeal which fought for the life of a wind farm in Cumbria to be extended until 2027 has been allowed by a planning inspector, after a detailed examination which rested on the Collins English Dictionary definition of the word “repowering”.

Kirkby Moor wind farm was first granted consent in 1992, and was given 25 years until the 12 turbines should be removed. Operator Zephyr Investments applied to South Lakeland Council for the condition to be removed, and for the farm to be allowed to continue until 2027.

The council rejected the application, on the basis that the “benefits arising from the proposal, including continuing renewable energy generation and the decommissioning programme, did not outweigh the continuing adverse effects on the landscape and on the setting and character of the Lake District National Park”.

An appeal into the decision took place in January, and saw Government planning inspector Phillip Ware visit the site and analyse the extensive arguments for both sides, as the scheme has attacted a mass of objections and support. Objectors have included parish councillors, district councillors, county councillors and a local MP, while a petition in support has attracted 121,000 signatures.

The extensive inquiry went into planning technicalities at length, at one point hinging on whether the application counted as a “repowering” of the wind farm, or a new scheme altogether. If the proposal counted as a new farm, it could de facto be rejected as the location wasn’t allocated as appropriate for renewable energy in the local development plan, and faced substantial local opposition.

Despite the council’s use of the Collins English Dictionary to argue that repowering meant “to replace or rebuild”, neither of which is happening in the case of Kirkby Moor, the inspector ruled on the side of Zephyr, as “the proposed extension of life of the windfarm would provide a very substantial public benefit in terms of the continuation of sustainable energy generation”, providing energy for around 2,700 homes.

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