Oxford’s cherished skyline of dreaming spires could be dramatically altered with the city’s first wind turbine – standing 85 metres tall.
Midcounties Co-operative wants to build a wind turbine to supply power for its headquarters and shop in Botley.
But last night civic leaders said they were concerned that the new turbine would damage the world famous views of Oxford.
Tony Joyce, chairman of Oxford Civic Society, said: “We would very much like Oxford to be a leading city in terms of modern sustainability.
“However, we need to take a close look at this visual implications of this application.
“There are places where a turbine could be sited without clashing with the traditionally cherished views.”
The Co-op has submitted a planning application for a 60m pole to test wind speeds over 12 months near its headquarters in Botley Road.
If the wind speeds are strong enough to provide about 75 per cent of the power for its offices, the Co-op store in Botley and the nearby Motorworld garage, then it hopes to install the 60m wind turbine with 25m long blades.
The proposed site is inside the city boundary between Seacourt park-and-ride and the A34 and some residents are already concerned by the proposal.
Evelyn Wilks, who lives in Botley Road near the proposed site, said: “We have not been told anything official about this yet. One of my major concerns would be noise. I don’t think it is a suitable thing to put so close to houses.”
The turbine would be much taller than the 52m high Seacourt Tower.
John Mathias, energy and environment manager for Midcounties Co-operative, said: “The planning application was submitted to the city council last week. The turbine will be visible from the A34 but no more so than the existing electricity pylons.”
Eric Batts, of Botley, a member of North Hinksey Parish Council, said: “It would absolutely destroy the view of Oxford. If you are coming down the A420, you can see across the city with unrestricted views – it’s been protected like that for years.”
Briony Newport, chairman of the parish council, said the council had not yet formed an official view on the turbine and would wait to be consulted by the city council.
The city council is currently searching for a site to place a wind turbine which would feed power into the local grid – Headington, Horspath and Wolvercote are possible locations.
Green Party councillor Craig Simmons said: “It is very admirable for Co-op to have this test site. People often think that urban areas are not suitable for wind turbines but that is often not the case.”
Louisa Dean, spokesman for the city council, said the application would be dealt with by officers, unless councillors at the central, south and west area committee called in the application.
By Matt Wilkinson
16 May 2007