I try to remain fairly neutral on planning issues. There tends to be at least two sides to any issue and if I support one of them the others get upset, which usually does not help in finding a way forward.

However, for the first time in my 13 and a half years as an MP, here the other day I decided that the time had come to jump off the fence and speak at a planning committee meeting.

The issue that drove me to this was the application to build a power station at Old Hutton just up above Kendal.

If you don’t know Old Hutton it is a lovely little village nestling in a little fold in the hills on the back road from Kendal to Kirkby Lonsdale.

When I first heard that a company was even thinking about building a power station there I thought it was a joke. I just couldn’t imagine that any company would be so stupid as to think it could build power station in what is a lovely part of the world.

In fact the actual place they planned to build wasn’t even on the Kirkby road it was down a tiny little lane just a couple of fields away from the primary school. It defies belief that any company could be so daft. But then you realise that the company behind the plans are based in London, in fact their offices are in Kensington one of the wealthier parts of what we all know is an expensive city and it all starts to make more sense.

They have had a couple of goes at getting planning permission. The first time was back in January when SLDC quite rightly turned it down. But rather than learning from this they submitted some slightly revised plans which in my opinion would have made things worse as one of the few changes they made was to reduce the height of the smoke stacks by three metres.

Admittedly this would have made it slightly less of an eyesore but it would still have been an eyesore. Added to which it would have meant that the chimneys would have been less effective at carrying the fumes away from the village and the school.

Fortunately the planning committee rejected the plans. I would like to think that my contribution made some difference but what I think really drove things was the amazing campaign by local residents.

But the really worrying thing is the way that companies like this one play the planning rules. The plan was just smaller than the size that would have meant that it needed national consideration which would have been much more expensive for them. Added to this there were a few members of the committee who voted in favour of the proposal but what drove them was not so much a belief that this was a good idea but fear about the costs that would be incurred by you and me as council tax payers if they decide to appeal the decision. That is simply wrong.