A plan to create a wind farm on the picturesque Yorkshire Wolds has been given a broadside by the Ministry of Defence, English Heritage and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which is urging it to be called in for a decision by the Government.
RWE npower renewables wants to put up 10 turbines, each measuring 126 metres to the blade tips, near the village of East Heslerton, Malton, which it says will provide electricity for to up to 14,500 homes.
But the MoD says it will create “unaccepable interference” to the radar at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, near Easingwold.
Richard Maisey, safeguarding assistant for wind energy at the ministry, warned Ryedale District Council – which will make a decision on the scheme – that the turbines could result in “mid-identification or mis-location of aircraft”.
“This would have potential flight safety implications,” he said.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has also criticised the development.
Its North Yorkshire Ryedale branch said: “The developers could hardly have chosen a site with a more negative impact on the landscape if that had been their intention.”
Spokeswoman Janet Sanderson said: “The turbines will be visible from the top of Rosedale, from Ravenscar and Flamborough Head and from a large area of the Wolds in the East Riding, as well as from much of Ryedale and the southern area of Scarborough district.
“The northern escarpment of the Wolds, on which the turbines will be sited, is a landscape feature of major regional importance.”
The Yorkshire Wolds required special protection, she said.
“CPRE is not opposed to on-shore wind development and accepts that a considerable increase in capacity is part of the Government’s energy policy. But that should only take place after a detailed study of landscape character has been carried out.”
“We believe it should be called-in for determination by the Government.”
Dr Diane Green, inspector of historic buildings for English Heritage in the region, said: “We are uncomforable about the scale of impact the wind farm will have on the landacape and its heritage assets.”
Martin Wood, RWE’s developer of the scheme, said that a public exhibition had been held last summer, attended by 200 local residents.
“The feedback from questionnaires highlighted that 65 per cent of the 75 respondees supported the proposal,” he said.
He added the capacity of the development would be about 20 to 30 megawatts, producing enough electricity to meet the average annual electricity consumption for between 9700 and 14,500 homes, depending on when the wind farm would not be generating when there was low or no wind speed.
Mr Wood said the company had consulted with RDC, Natural England, RSPB, English Heritage, Ministry of Defence and the Environment Agency which had helped to shape the design of the proposed wind farm.
“The constraints identified through consultations have been taken into consideration to ensure that the wind farm will have minimal environmental and social impacts and will be sympathetic to the surrounding area. We have taken care to design it in a way that means its visual impact from key viewpoints is minimised,” he said.
Mr Wood said that following the consultations the number of proposed turbines had been reduced from 13 to 10 and the most northerly sited turbines were moved further south from the escarpment edge.
Meanwhile, Paul Stephens, of Moor Farm, West Heslerton, who flies a light aircraft from a nearby airstrip, said he would not be able to outfly the turbines because of their height. In addition, his daughter has an equestrian business and trains young competition riders.
“They will be a huge hazard to horse riders,” he said.
County Coun Ron Haigh said: “I do not want to see the small Wolds villages suffer as a result of heavy traffic thundering through them.
For me the jury is still out on the viability of wind farms.”
RDC is expected to make a decision on the application later this summer.