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Notice from Secretary of State

15 October 2013

 

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 11th October 2013 gave notice that the Pilrow Wind Farm Appeal would be ultimately determined by him following the Inquiry held by the Inspector. This adds another layer to the process, but one we believe will be beneficial to this community.

The Inspector’s role at the Appeal which is scheduled to start on 09 January 2014 at The Princess, Burnham-on-Sea is now to consider all the evidence already submitted in writing, view the location of the proposed development from a number of vantage points including nearby properties, and then listen to and read the statements of Witnesses at the Inquiry, including a number of individual objectors. At the end of the Appeal, instead of making a decision, the Inspector now has to send a Report and Recommendation to the Secretary of State (at the time of writing The Rt. Hon Eric Pickles MP) for him to make the final decision to approve or reject the proposed development

This would appear to be good news for our Parish Council and NoPilrow supporters. In his Ministerial Statement to the House of Commons preceding this decision the Secretary of State spelt out that he had issued new Planning Practice Guidance on 29th July 2013. This was specifically to help ensure that planning concerns raised by local communities were given proper weight in planning decisions on onshore renewable energy and to confirm that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections for local communities on local issues such as landscape, heritage and local amenity, which includes the visual impact of the proposed development.

These issues are amongst the reasons why this wind farm is opposed by our Parish Council, adjacent Parish Councils, Sedgemoor, and important Consultees such as English Heritage, National Trust and the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE). We would now expect these local issues will now be given full consideration in compliance with the Guidance. Evidence is emerging that the Guidance has not been followed by Planning Inspectors, hence the reservation to the Secretary of State for him to make the final decision.

Many individuals have previously objected to this wind farm through the Sedgemoor Planning Website and whilst all these are likely to be taken into account by the Planning Inspector, there are other things we are asking residents to do in support.

These include:

Coming to some or all of the days of the Appeal to demonstrate an interest in the issues surrounding the proposed development. (We may be able to supply transport depending on demand)

On all these and other topics, I am happy to offer guidance on the process involved. We will be at the Appeal throughout as we have been granted full participation status. Parish Councillors will be giving Statements and attending the Appeal. We are also hoping that Parish Councillors from neighbouring Parishes will also be there in support.

Involvement by individuals and Parish Councillors has a greater significance for our community because we are not able to be supported by our own District Councillors. Bob Filmer is excluded because of his Chairmanship of the Sedgemoor Development Committee. Andrew Gilling has excluded himself through conflict of interest.

Time however is of the essence. Any formal evidence that goes in through NoPilrow Limited must be in by 10th December 2013, which by the time this appears in the Village Magazine is not going to be long.

Many of you already know how to reach me. In the first instance please contact me by e mail on martin.keegan@tiscali.co.uk and I will assist where I can to enable you to have your voice heard on this important issue for this community.

 

Martin Keegan

NoPilrow Limited