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Inquiry hears of wind farm threat to airport

The future of Robin Hood Airport and Hatfield Colliery could be threatened if controversial plans for a wind farm near Thorne get the go ahead, a public inquiry heard this week.

The comments came from the principal officer of minerals and waste at Doncaster Council who also warned that the plans for 22 80-metre high turbines at Tween Bridge could adversely affect the international designated environmental site of Thorne Moor.

Arthur Doyle told the inquiry: “The evidence indicates that the future economic growth of the area, including the airport and Hatfield colliery, could be put at risk. While it is accepted that the Government offers very strong support for renewable energy projects, that support is conditional on such projects being appropriately located. There is a lack of certainty that the international designated site of Thorne Moor will not be adversely affected and statutory obligations mean that authorities cannot grant permission unless the authority is convinced that there will be no adverse effects.”

He added that there were already a number of other proposals in the pipeline which meant Doncaster would easily meet its target of generating ten megawatts of renewable energy by 2010 without the need for the Tween Bridge scheme.

But the claims were strongly refuted by developers E.on who said an independent report commissioned by Doncaster Council proved the airport and wind farm could both co-exist and that coal was never likely to be mined from Hatfield Colliery in the lifetime of the development.

Vincent Fraser, for E.on, said claims the wind farm could sterilise millions of tonnes of coal were a “desperate attempt to kick this scheme into the long grass.”

He also warned without Tween Bridge there was no prospect of South Yorkshire meeting its 100 megawatt renewable energy target by 2010 and accused Doncaster Council of introducing a ten megawatt target to limit the number of windfarm developments in the area.

Mr Fraser added that Government advice dictated that windfarm proposals should be viewed favourably by local authorities and claimed that Doncaster has the greatest potential and lowest sensitivity for windfarm development in South Yorkshire.

Meanwhile, objectors to the development accused wind farm supporters of deceit by claiming they had submitted over 250 duplicate letters to the planning inspector.

Dr Ann Walker of the Thorne and District Wind farms Advisory Group (TDWAG) told the inquiry she had discovered 260 repetitions among 919 letters of support for the windfarm submitted to the inspector.

Paul Birtwhistle of Friends of Tween Bridge said he would look into the matter.

The inquiry continues.

18 January 2007