Councillors in Craven have put on hold an attempt to erect a 60 metres tall weather mast by a company which wants to build a wind farm in a beauty spot.
German company, EnergieKontor UK Ltd, has earmarked land at Brightenber Hill, about 10km from Skipton, to create a renewable energy wind farm consisting of five turbines which would each be 121 metres tall but has yet to submit a formal planning application to Craven District Council.
In advance of the application, which is likely to be some time between April and June, the company applied to the council’s planning committee to erect a 60-metre meteorological mast on farmland next to Brightenber Hill in a Special Landscape Area to measure wind speed and direction.
Critics of the wind farm itself, which would be a 10 megawatts power station, won a small reprieve when the committee deferred a decision on the mast to allow a visit to the site during its next meeting in April.
Opponents of the wind farm proposal have formed a group called The Friends of Craven Landscape to fight the plans.
Chris Emett, of the group, said: “Our concerns are primarily about the landscape. These turbines will be the tallest turbines in Britain. They will be placed in dominant positions in a series of rolling hills which stand between 180 and 200 metres high by themselves. People will see them from the top of Malham Cove which is seven miles away.”
The group is also concerned about the potential impact on tourism in Craven.
Mr Emett, who lives at Bank Newton, two miles from the site, said: “There are about six million visitors a year who spend almost £230m in the Craven district and the Craven tourism sector employs nearly 5,000 people (according to 2006 figures).
“In the same year, the UK’s Small Businesses Council did a survey on the effects of wind farms on tourism. They asked businesses and tourists if they would return to an area where a wind farm was built. Those who said ‘no’ varied from seven per cent in Cumbria to 15 per cent in Scotland.”
Jennifer Bryan, 62, whose home in West Marton is within less than a mile of the proposed wind farm, fears the turbines would ruin the landscape and threaten wildlife.
She said: “The turbines will be the equivalent of a 35-storey tall building and visible for miles around. The landscape has been unchanged for centuries and it’s absolutely beautiful. It would have an impact on the wildlife because of the noise and bird strike. We also have a number of bat colonies in this area and they are a protected species.”
Conrad Atkinson, a project manager for EnergieKontor UK Ltd, said: “The application (for the wind farm) has not been submitted at this stage. However, we are receptive to people’s comments at this stage. We have had an extensive consultation process which is still ongoing.
“Craven district has clearly defined targets for renewable energy. By 2010, once the revised spatial strategy has been adopted, the target for Craven district will be 18MW of installed renewable energy capacity. By 2021 the target is likely to be 48MW so they are significant targets. There is a realisation that the only viable technology at this time to meet these targets is medium to large wind farm developments.”
By Fiona Evans
13 March 2008
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