The managing director of a company which wants to create a wind farm on Todmorden Moor has insisted the controversial £10m plans have not been blown off course ““ despite losing a planning appeal involving a temporary mast 60m (196ft) high.
Vickram Mirchandani, of London-based Coronation Power, was speaking after inspector Chris Turner dismissed its appeal against Calderdale Council for “non-determination” of its application.
Coronation wants to equip the site with up to five 125m (410ft) high turbines capable of generating enough electricity for 10,000 homes.
It wanted to site the mast for 18 months on land at the moor north of Flower Scar Road, near Sharneyford, so it could see if sufficient wind was generated to make the project worthwhile.
Coronation also has another mast on a neighbouring site, Reaps-Moss, which has helped it measure wind potential.
Although the project, which is opposed by campaigners including some councillors, would create jobs in the construction industry in the short term, the company admits that only one person would be needed once the wind farm began operating.
In his report Mr Turner says that although the mast is tall it would be very slender. On a visit to the site he noticed a similar site which “in weather conditions that cannot be unusual in the area, there were times when it could not be seen at all”.
However, he was impressed by representations by members of Rossendale Valley Model Flying Club which use the moor.
He said: “They use the moor for their recreation frequently and the facility would be difficult, if not impossible, to replace elsewhere.
“They say that the proposed mast is close enough to their flying area to pose a threat of collision, and possibly, to invalidate their insurance arrangements.
“I conclude that the proposal would have a harmful impact on an established recreational use ““ flying model aircraft ““ in the area.”
But Mr Mirchandani denied that the setback would have significant implications for the project.
He said: “Firstly the main project is going ahead as planned and we are planning to submit the planning application at the end of this month.
“Yes, we are disappointed by the inspector’s decision, it would have been nice to have had it, but does it matter? We have another mast on a neighbouring site, Reaps-Moss, that has already proved a wind resource sufficient for our purposes.
“To be honest it does not make that much of a difference, in fact if you want my honest opinion, for me it is all quite entertaining.”
Harold Crabtree, who has been a member of the flying club since 1946, was delighted with the inspector’s decision.
He said: “There is someone up there most days when the weather is fine. The site is perfect because it is so isolated ““ it doesn’t annoy and is unlikely to cause any injuries if a plane comes down.”
Club secretary Ian Lever said Coronation Power could probably site the wind gauge far enough from the strip to avoid it becoming a hazard.
Todmorden Moor is owned by James Dearden, Lord of the Manor of Rochdale.
He has been paid a “nominal sum” by Coronation Power to have an exclusive option agreement on the land and will receive a rental fee depending on how many turbines are built ““ if any.
By Robert Sutcliffe
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