September 13, 2006

Windfarm battle hits the heights yet again

THE proposed wind turbine site across the wild moorland skyline between Rochdale and Rossendale is “˜an unnecessary high-rise factory’ leading environmentalist David Bellamy told a protest walk.

The veteran campaigner led scores of walkers, determined to show their defiance to plans for a 26-turbine windfarm on Scout Moor.

And he aimed to make sure the public know the matter is still high on his agenda three years after the protests began.

Walkers marked the third anniversary of the battle against the proposed erection of what the protesters refer to as “˜26 Blackpool Towers’ on the rugged moorland.

The two-hour protest walk, led by the Friends of Scout Moor, began at the Owd Betts pub, close to the proposed windfarm and ended at the top of nearby Knowl Hill.

Professor Bellamy was last in Rochdale in November 2003.

His previous visit was also to lead a march to the top of the borough’s highest hill to show his opposition to the windfarm.

The latest walk was calmer, but still defiant.

He said: “Wind turbines on land are woefully inefficient and barely run at 25 per cent efficiency at the best of times.

“Meanwhile, conventional coal or gas-fired power stations have to be kept running to supply electricity when the wind turbines cannot run, which is much of the time.

“It is sheer lunacy.”

He said the alternative was tidal power, generated from turbines beneath the sea’s surface.

Professor Bellamy added: “They can work nearly 24 hours a day and on the west coast of Britain, with its vast tidal ranges, we could generate enough electricity to more than supply this country, and probably most of Western Europe too.

“Wind turbines on land are just not needed and cause huge environmental damage to places like Scout Moor.”

A public inquiry has given the go-ahead for the developers, Peel Holdings, to erect the turbines.

A planned judicial review challenge by local solicitor Edward Smethurst over common rights to the land has had to be withdrawn. A change in the law and the risk of massive costs being awarded against the objector has forced a change of plan.

But the Friends of Scout and Knowl Moor aim to continue their fight, beginning with their high-profile symbolic anniversary walk “˜to highlight the proposed desecration of this moor land amenity site.’

Protest leader Ann Metcalfe said after the walk: “It was a great turn-out of like minded people who value these moors as an accessable, free and open space situated so close and in dramatic contrast to our expanding towns.

“No one can be under any illusion about what is at stake not only here but in several parts of our wonderful countryside.

“Throughout our campaign to stop the inappropriate development of 26 enormous turbines across three and a half kilometres of skyline, we have had tremendous backing and this support remains constant.

“It has been a long and hard battle and we want people to know that we are still very much involved in highlighting the huge drawbacks and injustice of this unwarranted and unnecessary intrusion into a very public area.”
Katie Hopton

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