Protesters vow to fight on after SSE Renewables gets approval for mast

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PROTESTERS say they will step up their efforts to oppose any proposals for a windfarm after plans for a temporary mast were approved at appeal.

SSE Renewables has been given permission by the Planning Inspectorate to install a temporary 80m high mast on land near Woolfox airfield, between Stretton, Clipsham and Pickworth.

The temporary mast will be in place for up to two years to measure wind speeds before SSE Renewables decides whether a plan for 22 130m high wind turbines on the site is viable.

Rutland County Council refused permission in May last year, citing policy grounds and the impact on the landscape and character of the area as grounds for turning it down.

But the planning inspector said the mast was “slender and of low visual weight”. He said it was only for a small period of time and that the “nature of the mast would mean it is not highly intrusive in the landscape”.

He also said the proposal was “not for a windfarm and does not set a precedent as such”.

The Clipsham, Pickworth and Steering Group opposed the plans for the mast and Miles Williamson-Noble, who is a member of the group, said: “We are disappointed by the appeal decision but not surprised.”

He said the group would continue to fight any proposals for a windfarm and said: “It’s the wrong number of turbines, the wrong size and the wrong place.

“If and when a proposal comes forward for a windfarm, we will outline our specific objections.”

The group is also planning to become an action group so it can raise funds for an expert to carry out independent environmental surveys, as well as raise awareness.

Mr Williamson-Noble said: “We feel that Rutland needs to look at this across the border before it gets inundated with planning applications.”

It is not yet known when the temporary mast will be erected.

A spokesman for SSE Renewables said: “We welcome the decision from the Planning Inspectorate to grant planning permission for an 80-metre high meteorological mast in order to proceed with further environmental investigations on and around the former Woolfox Airfield.

“These investigations will help us test the suitability of the site for a proposed wind arm and we will be updating the community as the project progresses.”