A pioneering wind-powered cheese farm could be created at Parkham.Peter Willes is looking at installing two turbines at his 270-acre Sedborough Farm which he says would generate enough power to supply his cheese farm as well as the 34 local farms that provide it with milk.
He is hoping to submit an application to Torridge planners within days, but the move has met with some opposition from the surrounding community.
Mr Willes made Parkham Parish Council aware of his plans at the end of last year, and since then residents have formed the Parkham Parish Conservation Association (PPCA).
Mr Willes said the turbines would be 65m high to the hub and the proposals were a proactive move towards environmentally improving farming methods.
He said: “We employ more than 50 local people, and contract out to many other local businesses in our area. We purchase in excess of £17 million worth of milk from our local farmers, in addition to the milk produced by our own three dairy herds. We feel that these turbines will secure the future of our cheese business, together with the local farmers and staff that we jointly employ.”
Mr Willes added: “We have main accounts with supermarkets who are asking our views on the environment and what we are doing to improve farming methods.
“After three years of researching ways to minimise our exposure to the ever increasing energy prices and to improve our carbon footprint, wind has become the obvious answer.
“The turbines will enable our cheese customers to buy the first farmhouse Cheddar on the market to be energised by green power from field to plate.”
Mr Willes said: “There is a danger that we could lose our supermarket business if we don’t improve our carbon footprint. If we don’t stay one step ahead the business could suffer. We are trying to be pro-active and lead the market as well as strengthening our position.
“The secret of success is offering something alternative.”
The PPCA says it is not opposed to renewable energy but believes there are more efficient methods of generating electricity than the use of wind turbines. It says it aims to preserve North Devon’s natural beauty and “prevent the construction of any source of renewable energy that is inappropriate for the parish of Parkham.”
Members of the PPCA say they believe the visual impact of the turbines will be “immense” and they are the equivalent of nearly four times the height of the parish church.
They have also raised fears over lorries carrying turbines to the site as they say the roads are not wide enough and there are concerns over their possible effect on tourism.
Mr Willes said: “I am disappointed that people have made their minds up without seeing the full application.”
Parkham Farms Ltd started making cheese in 1984 with its own milk. It originally produced 200 tonnes of farmhouse Cheddar cheese, and is now producing 4,000 tonnes of farmhouse Cheddar and 1,000 tonnes of organic farmhouse cheese.
21 February 2008
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