June 13, 2012
Lancashire Evening Post, www.lep.co.uk 13 June 2012
The skyline around Preston’s docks could be transformed forever as part of ambitious Town Hall plans to go green.
Preston Council will submit a planning application this month to build a £25,000, 70 metre high wind test mast on Wallend Road, close to the Trax go-karting premises.
The ‘pilot’ mast, which will be about the thickness of a scaffolding pole and contain three small fans, will be built to test if there is enough wind power in the area.
And if it is deemed a success, the council wants to draw up £12m plans for three full 100 metre tall turbines to be erected in the area along the River Ribble.
Today, council bosses said a huge public consultation would be carried out throughout the project – one of the first of its kind in the UK.
Environment director Mick Lovatt said: “We would want something that looks iconic, that looks elegant and is an attraction to get people to take part in what the council is doing with renewable energy.
“We are not talking about a huge windfarm, we are talking about three turbines.
“The test mast will be low key. It will have small fans which measure wind speed at 30m, 50m and 70m.”
It is expected the test mast planning application will be debated by the city council’s planning committee in August. If approved, the mast will initially be erected close to Trax, but could be moved around the 80 acres of land the council owns in the area if wind speeds are not sufficient.
The authority needs to gather 12 months of conclusive data, but Mr Lovatt said the next stages could be put in place earlier if positive data is gathered after six months.
If the three turbine plan goes ahead, they are expected to look similar to the Dewlay turbine in Garstang, which attracted more than 300 objections when it was first revealed.
But Mr Lovatt insisted the council would take the entire project to residents through public events.
He added the electricity generated would eventually see the devices pay for themselves and any extra cash generated would be ploughed into council services. The scheme would make Preston a “pioneering” city for renewable energy.
He said: “This is a civic scheme. The Dewlay turbine is a private one. Any cash which is generated out of this would go into the public purse and could be used for the benefit of the people of Preston.”
As well as a public consultation, the council would have to carry out a string of other tests including environmental assessments, radar assessments, microwave assessments and ground condition surveys.
The £25,000 cost of the test mast will be met from cash put side by the council in the capital budget.
If the full scheme gets the go-ahead the £12m cost would likely be met with borrowed money or external investment.
Coun Robert Boswell, cabinet member for environment said: “This is a pioneering scheme for the city.
“We are serious about renewable energy, reducing carbon emissions and pushing Preston forward as a carbon neutral city.”
This article is provided as a service of National Wind Watch, Inc.
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