The Government has today rejected plans that would have seen Britain's biggest wind-farm built on the fells of Whinash, near Tebay.
Government rejects windfarm plans
The company insisted the scheme was necessary to meet Government targets on renewable energy, but critics - including the two National Park Authority's, local Councils and many local residents - managed to take the proposals to a public inquiry.
Local residents formed the No Whinash Wind-farm action group and actively campaigned against the proposals, saying that if it went ahead, the Whinash scheme would pave the way for further development around the edges of National Parks that would damage the landscape of the area.
Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks and Rural Affairs Minister Jim Knight have accepted the recommendations of the Inspector, Mr David Rose, who held a public inquiry last year, to refuse permission for the 27 turbine wind farm at Bretherdale and Roundthwaite commons.
Both Ministers accept Mr Rose's conclusions that the effects on the landscape and its value for recreation would be so serious that they would outweigh the benefits of securing a renewable energy source and the need to address climate change.
Mr Wicks said: "Tackling global warming is critical but we must also nurture the immediate environment and wildlife. This is at the crux of the debate over wind energy.
"On this occasion, we agree with the independent inspector that the impact on the landscape and recreation would outweigh the benefits in terms of reducing carbon emissions.
"I know there was both support and opposition to the Whinash development but I hope the winner here is the planning system, which has to be robust in its assessment of the merits of each proposal. Our commitment to renewable energy is remains firm."
Welcoming the decision, Ruth Chambers, Head of Policy at the Council for National Parks, said: "We congratulate the government on its decision to reject this damaging wind energy scheme.
"People come to Whinash because of its relative wildness and the absence of prominent man-made structures in the landscape. The development would have ruined that, and it would also have blackened the name of renewable energy because so many people did not want this scheme to go ahead".
Andrew Forsyth, Executive Director of Friends of the Lake District which also campaigned against the development commented:
"I am delighted that Ministers have bowed to the weight of evidence on the visual, cultural and economic harm which a windfarm would have inflicted on this icon of upland beauty and tranquillity".
A further complication came when the Countryside Agency announced that the land could be incorporated into the National Parks.
Ruth Chambers added: "The Whinash ridge between the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Parks provides an important setting for these areas.
"It is also being considered for designation as a National Park because of its high landscape quality. Many people have regarded this as unfinished business since the 1950s when those National Parks were designated and when the Howgills were cut in two by the designation of the Yorkshire Dales National Park because of the position of the old West Riding county boundary.
Supporters of the Whinash proposals have reacted furiously to the news, accusing the Government of double standards and of ignoring the threat of climate change.
Stephen Tindale, Executive Director of Greenpeace, said: "Any Government that wants to expand airports and turn down windfarms is simply not fit to Govern.
"Climate change will ravage beautiful areas like the Lake District. I hope those responsible will be willing to explain to future generations how they played their part in allowing the savage grip of global warming to trash the countryside and claim hundreds of thousands of lives".
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Feedback received for this article:
- Good news, it's a pity the one on the A59 west of Harrogate was not thrown out as well.