The watchdog responsible for protecting historic buildings says it has concerns about the impact of a wind farm proposal on a grade-one listed church.
English Heritage is objecting both to a 180ft windspeed measuring mast being erected and the building of a seven-turbine farm between Tunstall and Hilston on Yorkshire’s East Coast, close to the nine-centuries-old All Saints’ Church.
In a letter to planners, English Heritage’s historic buildings inspector Diane Green says they believe the “visually damaging” application – for both the wind farm and mast – should be refused.
The turbines are only 40ft lower than the London Eye.
It says: “We note that reference is made in the draft conservation area appraisal to the low horizons which characterise the Holderness area which would cause anything tall to be visually extremely prominent.
“This would be especially true in the case of the proposed wind turbines.
“We consider that the wind farm would seriously damage the setting of the grade one church and of this attractive village, soon to become a conservation area.”
Tomorrow councillors will be asked to back plans by Energiekontor UK for the temporary mast, as well as a second one at Withernwick where it is looking to build nine wind turbines.
Although National Air Traffic Services and the Civil Aviation Authority have no objections, there has been no final response from the Ministry of Defence which has previously raised concerns about the wind farm falling “in line of sight” to the air defence radar at Staxton Wold.
Hilston resident Jackie Cracknell said the meeting should be deferred until the final response was in from the MoD and there was further clarification from English Heritage – although she accepted that the proposal was likely to go through. She said: “I think it will be approved but the debate is about safety and that’s going to be a long-term debate.”
However developer Energiekontor says that the landscape has been considered as part of an assessment of the landscape by the council and is “plain, flat and boring”. A spokesman said the landscape could “take structures of that size”.
Many local residents are concerned about the cumulative impact of development in the area – two other windfarms are proposed for Roos, and just a few miles away a gas storage project is just being completed, with another already passed, a third in the pipeline and a fourth being looked at.
But the spokesman said change was inevitable: “Everyone has to accept some change on behalf of the nation. The resources that exist are going to be exploited.”
Recent research showed that targets for renewable energy for Yorkshire and the Humber for 2020 were not going to be satisfied unless more proposals made it through the pipeline.
Planners say the applications for mast and farm have to be treated separately. They say in both cases the masts are of a “slender and temporary nature and not considered to have an overbearing detrimental impact on the character of the area”.
It adds: “Impacts on nature conservation and aviation safety have been assessed by external consultants and no objections have been received.”
By Alexandra Wood
20 June 2007
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