Wind mast at West Pinchbeck gets go ahead

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Controversial plans for an 80 metre-high wind monitoring mast – opposed by Energy Minister John Hayes – have been given the go-ahead for farmland at West Pinchbeck.

A packed public gallery and a 20-strong gathering watching on video link saw South Holland’s planning committee almost split down the middle as councillors approved Wind Ventures Ltd’s application for land near Fen Farm by five votes to four.

Planning officers and committee chairman Roger Gambba-Jones told members they must decide the application on its merits and completely ignore the company’s planning application in the pipeline for nine 126 metre high wind turbines.

Coun Sally-Ann Slade made a plea for the company to be asked to use ground-based Lidar to measure wind speed, rather than allow another blot on the landscape.

But planning officer Chris Crew told her: “The applicant says the information from Lidar isn’t accurate and isn’t acceptable to the banks for funding purposes.”

Coun Slade said: “Many local residents can’t look in any direction without some monstrous structure blocking their view of the Fens.”

Coun Gambba-Jones said members had raised no “valid planning reasons” for refusing the mast.

He said: “Every applications is considered as it is written at consideration time and you are being asked to give due consideration to a mast for monitoring wind speed, no more, no less.

Sue Blake, from the Stop West Pinchbeck Wind Farm group, asked councillors to reject the plans saying it would harm wildlife sites, Willow Tree Fen and Pinchbeck Fen Slipe Nature Reserve.

Willow Tree Fen was populated with an extensive array of birdlife, some rare such as the bittern.

Mrs Blake said: “Experts have stated any delay, or disruption, to the vital work that is being done there is likely to have a profound and unacceptable impact on the survival of endangered species.”

But Natural England, the Government’s experts, had not objected to the mast while Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust had. After the meeting, the windfarms protest group said it is employing experts so it can get on with the main battle against the wind farm.

The group’s Tony Fear said they were confident they could give the committee “the robust reasons they need to refuse the wind farm”.