A decision to extend the life of a wind farm has set a “national precedent”, councillors have been told.

South Lakeland District Council refused permission to keep the Kirkby Moor wind farm in Cumbria running until 2027.

A government planning inspector upheld an appeal by operators Ventient Energy.

Council planning officer Michael Hoar said it was “the first appeal that has related to the retention of such a farm” and the decision set an “interesting precedent”.

Wind energy companies could now cite the decision to keep turbines in place for longer than originally permitted, he said.

Mr Hoar said the ruling hinged on a technicality in the 2019 National Planning Policy Framework.

It says new wind farms need the backing of the local community (not in Scotland) – but the “re-powering of existing wind farms” do not.

“That is the argument that the inspector accepted,” Mr Hoar said.

“Obviously a lot of people will say re-powering could involve taking off the old turbine, putting on a new set of blades on and a new generator – that’s re-powering.

“But by simply taking an existing wind farm, making no changes to it physically or in any other way, is that re-powering?”

Image caption Objectors to the Kirkby Moor wind farm are said to be considering legal action

The Kirkby Moor development was one of the UK’s first wind farms, coming online in 1993.

Conservative councillor Janette Jenkinson said it was South Lakeland’s first and planners wanted it to be decommissioned after 25 years.

“This has set a precedent for all those wind farms we have given permission for since then,” she said.

Kirkby Moor Protectors, who objected to the extension, are believed to be considering a judicial review, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

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