Will a Wind Farm be permitted on Holcombe Hill?

Cllr Ian Bevan with Ramsbottom MP, David Nuttall, with a backdrop of Holcombe Moor

Cllr Ian Bevan with Ramsbottom MP, David Nuttall, with a backdrop of Holcombe Moor

Residents of Ramsbottom and Holcombe Village have been aware of Bury Council’s Local Plan – Core Strategy for some time now. It sets down planning guidance for the next 15 years.

On page 168 of the published Local Plan’s Core Strategy (available on the Council’s website) – it says that along the western boundary, north eastern boundary and north of the Irwell Valley, the Council will work with utility and other companies to bring forward proposals for “opportunities to harness wind energy” – in other words, wind turbines and wind farms.

This location includes the moors above Holcombe and Hawkshaw.

This proposal alarmed us in the Bury North Conservative Group.  Cllr Iain Gartside (Tottington), Cllr James Daly (North Manor) and I (Ramsbottom) worked on a proposal removing the targeted areas from the Local Plan Core Strategy which we brought before the full Council on 3 July 2013.

Additionally, we proposed that all key stakeholders should be involved in the creation of a new “Wind Turbine” policy for Bury setting out acceptable separation distances of wind turbines from residential properties based upon the size of the wind turbine.

Unfortunately, the ruling Labour Group on Bury Council (including Ramsbottom’s Labour Councillor) voted down this proposal.

Does my Labour opponent in the May elections also hold the same view as her colleagues in Bury Labour?  I would suggest you ask her.

Whilst no planning application has yet been lodged for Holcombe Moor, I think it will only be a matter of time before Peel or another company consider it a target.

Holcombe Moor - threat of Wind Turbines?

Holcombe Moor – threat of Wind Turbines?

That is why I have today welcomed the announcement that the next Conservative Government would end public subsidies for newly planned onshore wind projects and give local councils the decisive say on them.

The Conservatives would also make changes to planning rules to give greater protection to an area’s valued countryside and heritage.

The changes would mean that any plans not already in the pipeline for new offshore wind projects would need to be able to pay for themselves and get local support, especially now that enough onshore wind has been planned to meet the Government’s legally-binding renewables target for 2020.

There is already enough onshore wind planned to meet the Government’s renewables target. The Conservative Party is committed to supporting renewables as part of a balanced energy mix.  Onshore wind currently delivers power to four million homes, and will bring power to three million more by 2020.

These changes, I am told, would be delivered by a Conservative Government within six months of the next election.

I think this is excellent news for people in Ramsbottom and Holcombe who have been worried that wind farms could be approved locally without their views being heard.

This will give us the power to protect our heritage and natural beauty in Holcombe.

I also understand that the changes wouldn’t lead to increases in bills.The amount that bill payers contribute to renewable energy up to 2020 is already capped by law.