Chris Went, Heritage & Conservation Officer, writes:
On Tuesday, 13 November Sally McDonald (Brontë Society Chair) and I met in Halifax to attend the committee meeting which would decide on the planning application to repower Ovenden Moor windfarm.
This repowering, unlike the proposal to erect a wind test mast on Thornton Moor, has not generated any concerted opposition. There is no local group dedicated to stopping this development and although the group which opposes the Thornton Moor proposals was supportive, with individuals lodging objections with Calderdale Council, Ovenden is not their battleground. Opposition from Calderdale residents was patchy and it was surprising that the local newspaper, the Halifax Courier, carried so few articles about the development. At the committee meeting, therefore, Sally and I, as representatives of the Brontë Society, seemed to represent the largest single aspect of opposition – the impact on visual amenity – and as a result, Sally agreed to speak for all the objectors present, including the respresentative of Luddenden Civic Society.
After the Planning Officer had presented the application, Sally was allowed five minutes to speak for the objectors. Although so little time was allowed, Sally put reiterated the objections of the Brontë Society, and stressed the High Court ruling of Mrs Justice Lang which said that energy requirements should not take priority over consideration for the landscape. No questions were asked, and she was followed by the councillor for Illingworth and Mixenden who supported the application. Emma Clark, the agent for Yorkshire Wind Power then spoke for the application. Questions put to her by the panel of councillors allowed her more than the allotted five minutes to put her views.
Although the panel members were supposed to debate, this item on the agenda was nothing more than four of the panel expressing support for the application on the grounds – contrary to Mrs Justice Lang’s Hemsby ruling - that Calderdale’s need to meet its green targets was more important than what was considered to be a slight negative impact on the landscape. Two councillors did not speak but at the vote, supported the application so that agreement was unanimous.
Naturally we are very disappointed with the outcome, but understand that the application may be called in by the government for review by the Planning Inspectorate. If there is an opportunity to make a representation to the Secretary of State we shall do so.