Three sites in Oxford have been identified as possible locations for giant wind turbines.
Although the city council has shelved plans for wind generators until proper costings have been made, it has already earmarked sites should money become available.
And the city’s Green lobby has “confidently predicted” wind turbines would appear across Oxford before 2011 – possibly on land in Headington, Horspath or Wolvercote, as our graphic shows.
The idea would be for the city council to generate its own electricity – and then sell it on the open market in competition with suppliers like Southern Electric.
The city’s Green Party, which has one of the biggest Town Hall representations of any council in the country, has long lobbied for a giant turbine but has accepted several smaller generators may be better than one large one.
Green city councillor Matt Sellwood said: “I can confidently predict we will have wind turbines in Oxford – and I would be disappointed if not within five years. The key is finding areas that have the right wind.
“(Wind turbines) are not going to generate all Oxford’s electricity – we can’t have all our eggs in one basket – but it will make a useful contribution. The report isn’t hugely keen on a macro wind turbine, but our stance is that we are not satisfied all options for a big wind turbine have been exhausted.”
Experts have already told city council planning chiefs the best locations for a wind turbine would be on hills to the east or west of the city.
However, several obstacles remain – not least the fact wind turbines have to be located 300m away from houses and building in the Green Belt is prohibited.
The Town Hall also owns several small sites just outside the city boundaries that have been identified as possible locations – particularly at South Hinksey, just off the ring road.
The nearest wind farm to Oxford is at Westmill Farm in Watchfield, a 49m-high, 31m-wide blade, but planners are concerned that scheme took five years to secure planning permission – and came with a number of restrictions.
There is also a giant turbine on a business park close to the M4 motorway in Reading.
Talk of giant wind turbines in Oxford first surfaced in March, but John Kulasek – the city council’s estates manager, warned at least £1.25m was needed to invest in a turbine and that “a degree of visual impact was inevitable”.
He said: “We are looking at three or four potential sites. We are carrying out further investigation in collaboration with Oxfordshire County Council who have erected a number of smaller wind turbines to see whether this is suitable for Oxford.”
The city council has already resolved to buy its energy from renewable sources and this week reaffirmed its commitment to building a combined heat and power (CHP) plant to power Oxford’s regenerated West End.
By Giles Sheldrick
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding