Wind turbines built on land owned by North Yorkshire County Council could earn the authority £1.4m a year – almost the equivalent of a penny reduction in council tax – if elected members pursue the deal.
The council is considering an approach from a Carbon Trust subsidiary Partnerships for Renewables whether it would be interested in receiving £30,000 a year for each turbine sited on its land, plus a percentage of profit from the electricity generated.
Leaked information about the proposal, suggesting there could be as many as 45 wind turbines, each 410ft high, has prompted concern. Parish councils in the Vale of York around Boroughbridge where North Yorkshire has a large land bank on county smallholdings are among those preparing to resist.
A meeting of Boroughbridge Town Council with parish councillors from Kirby Hill and District, Langthorpe, Marton-cum-Grafton, Roecliffe and Westwick and representatives from Dunsforths Parish Meeting and Yorevision is already expressing concerns.
They accepted that wind turbines had a part to play in reducing carbon omissions, but a spokesman said: “We had very deep reservations about the suitability of the Boroughbridge location for such installations.”
After hearing that RAF Linton-on-Ouse, near York, was among the UK’s busiest airfields, the meeting expressed concern about safety issues involved in building 410ft-tall turbines.
The spokesman said: “We felt that the proximity of the Linton-on-Ouse and Dishforth airfields would become a very serious issue. Would wind turbines interfere with radar? Was there a risk of collision?”
He added: “The Boroughbridge area is predominantly flat but is generally considered to be an attractive rural environment. In such a location wind turbines would become the dominant visual feature and much local character would be lost.”
Reservations were also expressed about the county council deciding planning applications for turbines on its land: “It was considered appropriate for the county council to act as its own planning authority when projects such as a new school were being considered, but wholly inappropriate when the council could expect to get about £30,000 per year from each wind turbine installation.”
North Yorkshire’s principal corporate policy and performance officer Neil Dodson said potential sites were being examined with Partnership for Renewables: “That is the stage the exercise has reached. There will be one hell of a lot of land that we own that is not going to be suitable.
“There is no way we are going to stick a big turbine up on a little primary school for example. Considerations include: Are the sites windy enough and would they get planning permission.”
Mr Dodson said there would be public consultation as part of any planning application process, adding: “It is all very early days. We have a smallholdings estate that spreads across North Yorkshire and amongst those pockets of land there are some that are worth investigating. That’s about as far as it goes at this stage.
“What the county council has approved is that we would work with PfR to see if any of our sites might be suitable. They have given no approval to any site.”
A report will be presented to the council’s executive in the next few weeks.
By Brian Dooks
14 February 2008
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