Campaigners are celebrating victory in their battle against controversial plans for a windfarm near Pontefract.
Twelve members of Wakefield Council’s planning board yesterday unanimously rejected Banks Development’s application to erect a 60m wind monitoring mast for up to three years on land off Westfield Lane at Darrington.
They voted against council officers’ recommendation to approve the test mast on the grounds that it would be an ‘inappropriate development in green belt.’
More than 760 people had objected to the temporary mast which the developers said is needed to determine the type of turbines needed to generate maximum electricity from six planned masts at the site.
At 80m high to the hub plus giant blades the scheme’s opponents say the turbines would be a blot on the Went Valley landscape.
Banks Developments are considering lodging an appeal to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate. The company has previously won an appeal in a similar situation.
Tony Hames, chairman of Pontefract Windfarm Action Group, said after the meeting: “This is the lift our group needed to encourage us to keep fighting.”
He added: “They will build this windfarm over my dead body. This development is of absolutely no value to the people of Pontefract.”
Les Driffield, of East Hardwick Parish Council, earlier told the meeting: “The test mast is an integral part of the windfarm scheme which would set a new national precedent by having the largest turbines the closest yet to housing.
“The scheme should be stopped now without wasting any more money. I don’t think we should allow damage to the environment and the greenbelt even on a temporary basis without knowing if planning will be granted for a windfarm.”
Mark Dowdall, of Banks Developments, said after the meeting that the company will wait for a formal letter from Wakefield Council outlining reasons for refusal before considering an appeal.
He added: “There may be local opposition but I don’t believe there is overwhelming opposition in Yorkshire or the country as a whole to windfarm development.
“As a country we need to do something to be more sustainable in our energy production.”
Banks, who have already submitted a planning application to Wakefield Council for six turbines on the site, say it could provide power for up to 8,000 homes.
The Pontefract Windfarm Action Group has arranged for a blimp to fly at 60m, the height of the test mast, on Saturdays, Sundays and Tuesdays to illustrate their objections.
By Mark Lavery
14 July 2007
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