1. ITV Report

Wind turbine plans meet fierce opposition

Wind turbine plans often prove controversial in Cumbria. Photo: ITV Border

Plans to replace 12 wind turbines on Kirkby Moor in South Cumbria with 6 larger ones have met fierce opposition.

RWE Innogy says the 20-year old wind farm needs upgrading.

But conservationists argue they'll be too visible from the Lake District National Park and the Site of Special Scientific Interest isn't right for them.

The site on Kirkby Moor. Credit: ITV Border

The existing turbines were installed in 1993 and are capable of translating the howling wind over some of Cumbria's most rugged moorland into 450 KW of electricity.

They're 45 metres and between them can supply up to 2,800 homes with electricity a year.

But technology has moved on a lot in 20 years.

Modern turbines are bigger and more efficient. RWE Innogy wants to replace them with 6 turbines of 115 metres.

We should be looking to take advantage of every opportunity that we can to create as much green energy to offset those carbon emissions from conventional power generation.

Halving the number of turbines with six larger ones means that they'll be able to catch more wind and those six turbines will actually generate enough energy for around about 10,000 homes so you've got a four-fold increase in the amount of power produced as a result of the greater size."

– Chris Gainey, Developer, RWE Innogy

South Lakeland District Council is still processing this planning application but we can reveal so far it's had around 600 letters of objection and 20 letters of support.

RWE Innogy says one of those letters of support is actually a consultation where around 800 residents and visitors of South Lakeland have lent their support.

One of the main objectors is Friends of the Lake District, which argues it's too close to the Lake District National Park and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

They're going to be really visible from an awful lot of places in the National Park where they can't be seen from at the moment: so far example, if you're at the Gondola jetty on Coniston you'll be able to see them; if you're on a boat on Coniston you'll be able to see them all the way down.

Lots of people love wild swimming; they love going out in their boats... there'll be wind turbines where there aren't wind turbines at the moment.

They'll even be able to be seen from Kirkstone Pass, which is a good 20 miles from the turbine site.

It's also on a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) - the SSSI's really nice heather moorland - there's going to be loss of about 3 hectares of that moorland completely, so no matter what the company says that they're going to manage the rest of the SSSI for its wildlife, you're still going to be losing 3 hectares of the SSSI."

– Kate Willshaw, Friends of the Lake District
One of the turbines. Credit: ITV Border

The company says it will invest more money into managing the SSSI site and will increase its charitable giving scheme for the local area, if permission is granted.

It's expected to go before the planning committee in October, until then South Lakeland District Council's planning office is wading through the responses.