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'Prove it won't spoil dreaming spires view'

A full environmental study on a wind turbine test mast must be made before city planners decide whether it would spoil views of the ‘dreaming spires’.

The Midcounties Co-op, based in Botley Road, Oxford, will submit a photo-montage of the 55m test mast in a bid to allay fears that it will ruin the city’s skyline.

It follows a request from Oxford City Council for the application to be withdrawn – and resubmitted with more detail on the mast’s impact.

The Oxford Mail asked the Co-op to show readers the photo-montage, but managers want council planners to see it first.

John Mathias, energy and environment manager for the Midcounties Co-op, said the structure would consist of a thin mast with a wind-speed monitor on top.

The company is compiling the information requested by planners and is hopeful the application will be decided within the next month.

He said: “We have had a photo-montage done. It’s basically an accurate photo of the mast as viewed from the A420.

“We have used accurate landscape data and superimposed the test mast.”

The Co-op wants to site the 55m test mast near its headquarters in Botley Road to monitor wind speeds.

Its long-term plan is to build a 60m turbine with 25m blades on the site, to provide electricity for the company’s Botley Road offices and its shop in the West Way shopping centre.

Mr Mathias said if permission was granted it would take around a week to build the mast.

He said: “We are not going to put a turbine up if the wind speed is not suitable. We need data over a 12-month period to calculate how effective a turbine would be. If that assessment is favourable we would go ahead with an application for a wind turbine.”

A city council spokesman said: “We had asked the Co-op to withdraw the planning application as it lacked certain important information.

“This included a landscape assessment which looked at how the character of the landscape would be affected.

“We understand they are intending to submit further information.

“When it arrives we will see whether we can determine the planning application.”

The Co-op vowed to push ahead with the application despite objections raised following July’s flooding.

It said the mast would not worsen flooding problems and added that a turbine could be used to power pumps to help alleviate problems during future floods.

In February Witney MP David Cameron announced he was installing a wind turbine and solar panels to the roof of his home in London’s North Kensington.

No-one from his office was available for comment on the Oxford scheme.

By Chris Buratta

Oxford Mail

11 October 2007