Defence officials are objecting to a cluster of controversial wind farm applications on an isolated stretch of the Holderness coast amid concerns they could interfere with vital radar systems.
A scheme to build seven giant turbines at Monkwith, an 11-turbine scheme a short distance away at Roos, and new proposals for nine turbines at Withernwick fall “in line of sight” to the air defence radar at Staxton Wold.
However there are no objections to a smaller three-turbine scheme at Tedder Hill, the third application in the parish of Roos.
A letter from Defence Estates to planners at East Riding Council over the seven-turbine scheme at Monkwith says when they were first consulted in 2003 they objected. Since then the height of the turbines has increased to 400ft from the base to the tip of the blades and their objection still stood.
It said: “Following trials carried out in 2005, it has been concluded that wind turbines can affect the probability of detection of aircraft flying over or in the vicinity of wind turbines. Due to this the RAF would be unable to provide a full air surveillance service in the area of the proposed wind farm.”
The MoD added: “Experience has shown that unfortunately wind farms in close proximity to ground radar does disturb the radar.”
Meanwhile the nine-centuries-old All Saints’ Church at Tunstall, a Grade 1 listed building, could prove another line of defence for villagers from tiny Hilston and Tunstall, who have joined forces against the wind farm. The church ““ which has a history dating back to at least 1115 is built of cobbles washed from the boulder clay gathered from the nearby seashore. Like the rest of the village it is barely touched by modern development.
But now local residents fear its setting will be ruined by the building of the wind farm.
They say the church’s tower at just 45ft would be dominated by 400ft turbines the nearest of which would be under a kilometre away. The turbines are only 12m (39.3ft) lower than the London Eye. Church warden Christine Dobson-Youngman said the church’s tranquillity ““ often noted by visitors ““ would be lost. She said: “The turbines will be directly behind the tower and totally dominate.
“I consider it a nonsense that there are strict controls on what can and cannot be carried out to the church itself but the whole context in which the building stands can be compromised by the erection of these massive turbines which will alter views of the skyline and the setting of the church itself.”
Cherie Blenkin, who lives in Roos and chairs campaign group, South Holderness Opposes Wind Turbines, said villagers felt under siege.
A fourth application for a farm at Withernwick is in the pipeline. “When they passed the original wind farm at Out Newton after the public inquiry the inspector said you shouldn’t be able to see one wind farm from another.
“But if these are all passed we believe there will be specific areas in Roos from where you will be able to see five wind farms.
“It would totally dominate Holderness’ rural flat landscape.” In Hilston residents hope that councillors ““ who are expected to deliberate on all four applications later this year ““ bear in mind that earlier this year they threw out plans for a wind farm at Routh, near Beverley, on the grounds that it would have destroyed panoramic views of Beverley Minster.
Resident Jackie Cracknell, from Hilston, said: “What’s good enough for Beverley has to be good enough for Tunstall and Hilston.”
Developers EnergieKontor confirmed there were objections to their proposals at Monkwith and Withernwick.
But general manager Judith Cornfield said: “We are not necessarily anticipating that the projects won’t go forward because there is a lot of work between the DTI and MoD going on on this topic at the moment.”
By Alexandra Wood
19 April 2007
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