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Wind farm test mast due to get go-ahead

Council planners say stage one of a controversial wind farm scheme should get the go-ahead – despite objections from hundreds of residents.

Banks Developments has applied for permission to put up a temporary 60-metre “test mast” on green belt land at Hook Moor, near Micklefield and Garforth in east Leeds.

The firm wants to use data from the mast to fine-tune its proposals for as many as eight propeller-style turbines on the same site.

Banks’s test mast application is due to be considered by Leeds City Council’s plans panel east next Thursday, September 27.

And today it emerged that the council had received 779 letters of objection to the scheme, compared to just six of support.

Councillors from three local wards have also signalled their opposition, as has Colin Burgon MP, whose Elmet constituency includes Hook Moor.

However, the local authority’s chief planning officer is recommending that the application be accepted, subject to further scrutiny from the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber.

A report to the nine councillors who make up the panel says the “wider environmental and economic benefits” of a wind farm outweigh the impact the test mast would have on the rural landscape.

Carolyn Walker, spokeswoman for the Hook Moor Wind Farm Action Group, which is spearheading the fight against Banks’s plans, today admitted that the findings of the report were “disappointing”.

She added: “We can only hope the panel takes into account the strength of feeling in the area.”

Each of the proposed turbines would reach a height of 125m – taller than the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament, which is 96.3m high.

The location earmarked for the wind farm is near the junction of the M1 and A1(M), south of the B1217 Collier Lane.

Durham-based Banks says the development would generate enough energy for up to 10,000 homes without the production of environmentally-damaging greenhouse gases.

Because of the size of the proposed wind farm, the test mast application will still need to be considered by the Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber if it comes through next week’s meeting successfully.

The Government office could then choose to make the final decision on the application itself, or simply pass it back for approval by the council’s chief planning officer.

By Paul Robinson

Yorkshire Evening Post

22 September 2007