Lord Gisborough has blasted the town’s MP over “insults and cheap political jibes” made over controversial proposals for a £15.6m wind turbine scheme.
He was responding to criticism from Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Labour MP Tom Blenkinsop and Guisborough councillor Joe Keenan that he was treating the town’s residents like “medieval serfs” over the plans.
Lord Gisborough said: “It’s a bit sad that the best they can do for their complainants is to resort to gratuitous offensive personal comment, unrelated insults and cheap political jibes, as if that will make any difference to whether or not their planning committee will grant consent.”
The row comes after developer Banks Renewables revealed plans for six 410ft high wind turbines on a 250-acre site at Park Woods, on the Gisborough Estate off Wilton Lane, north of the A171.
The turbines – each almost twice the height of the Transporter Bridge – would be in a cluster behind hills and, it is said, partially obscured from the town.
Mr Blenkinsop and Cllr Keenan criticised Lord Gisborough’s decision to allow construction.
The MP said: “Lord Gisborough, a local aristocrat whose estate was inherited from his feudal ancestors, is allowing the possible construction of this massive wind farm, while it’s people in Mount Pleasant and north Guisborough who may ultimately be forced to live in its shadow.”
But Lord Gisborough has now said it was the Labour Government of 2008 which “set out the targets for renewable energy to which this proposal complies”.
And he added: “I may have given leave to Banks to take wind samples… but that is hardly a thing for which one should seek ‘community interest’.
“I now have no interest in the land involved and so am not bothered whether or not the scheme goes ahead. All development proposals have to go to before the planning committee before they are allowed, and it’s the planners to whom people’s concern should be addressed.”
Lord Gisborough said he understood at least 40 jobs would be created, contracts would amount to £3m and £25,000 a year will be put back into the community.
He has previously said he was “neutral” on the plan and will not personally benefit, though the Gisborough Estate will.
But Mr Blenkinsop responded: “It’s a great shame Lord Gisborough signed this deal off more than eight months ago and only now is the public finding out about the plans.”
Mr Blenkinsop has now written to the peer requesting details, including any consultation, what his estate stands to gain from the development and what impact it will have on the community.
Fears for folk in turbines’ shadow
PLANS for giant wind turbines on the outskirts of Guisborough received a mixed response at a public exhibition.
A total of 167 residents attended the Methodist Church Hall, on Westgate, yesterday to give their views on the £15.6m Bank Renewables wind turbine scheme.
The development is being proposed for land owned by Gisborough Estate off Wilton Lane, north of the A171.
Many at the event said the effect on 24 households at Mount Pleasant – only about 800 metres from the six-turbine site – was the most crucial issue.
Developers want to erect the 410ft high turbines behind wooded hills at Park Woods, covering about 250 acres on an elevated site overlooking Guisborough, in a cluster partially obscured from the town.
Durham-based Banks Renewables has sent out 3,000 leaflets to locals while the consultation included maps and artists’ impressions of the turbine site high above the historic market town.
Charles Daynes, 79, of Guisborough, a former Langbaurgh Council gardener, backed the green energy scheme.
He said: “It’s looking to the future and the visual aspect doesn’t bother me.”
But he admitted that, as a regular walker, the turbines would be clearly visible from many places in the area.
Self-employed scientific consultant John Birtill, 60, who lives two kilometres away from the Guisborough site, said “it wouldn’t be intrusive to me”.
But he wants more information to see what effect there would be on residents at Mount Pleasant, in the shadow of the huge turbines.
He said: “I’m a vigorous supporter of renewable energy, but want to know if there’s a detrimental effect on residents.”
Bob Moodie, 71, chair of New Marske Residents’ Association and local member of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, said he wants to see turbines 100 miles out to sea – not crowded onto an attractive landscape.
“Mount Pleasant is within 800 metres of this proposal and people are concerned about the impact and noise generated there,” he said.
Retired theatre nursing sister Christine Harrington, of Stokesley Road, Guisborough, said: “I’d rather have wind power than nuclear power. But I have concerns for people living at Mount Pleasant.”
CPRE Redcar and Cleveland member Terry Cox said: “Wind turbines are very inefficient. The wind doesn’t blow all the time – for the rest, they have to use gas turbine back-ups which cause pollution anyway.”
Stewart Provan, senior development planner for Banks Renewables, said the turnout for the exhibition was excellent.
He said: “We want a continuing dialogue with the public on the scheme and will hold more exhibitions if necessary, including a special meeting with Mount Pleasant residents who live closest to the proposed site.”
Next, he said, developers will apply to Redcar and Cleveland Council planning committee for permission to erect a mast on site to gauge wind speeds.