Wind turbines will almost certainly be built between two South Yorkshire villages after borough planners finally gave the scheme approval.
Plans for Rotherham’s first windfarm were originally drawn up in 2004, but have been delayed by a series of factors, including public opposition.
Yesterday, after members of Rotherham Council’s planning board gave permission for the three 95m (311ft) turbines between rural Harthill and Thorpe Salvin, there were cries of “Shame”.
Only two councillors on the 20-strong board attempted to vote down the proposals, including Jennifer Whysall, who represents the local area, close to the M1 south of Sheffield.
The issue has split the community as some residents support farmer John Wilks, who has applied to build the turbines, while others are angrily against the idea.
Mr Wilks, who spoke at yesterday’s meeting, said the wind farm, which will be built on his land by Cornwall Wind and Power Ltd, was vital for his survival.
But others who spoke during the debate, which lasted more than an hour, said Loscar Farm, where Mr Wilks’s family has lived for generations, was “the wrong place”.
Members of the planning board were taken on a site visit yesterday morning to see for themselves the effect it would have on the surrounding area.
Many said they felt sympathy for local residents, but added that the threat of global warming effectively cancelled out their worries over noise and health effects.
Coun Jahangir Akhtar said: “I would like to thank members of the community for how they have conducted themselves – judging by the letters we have received I thought there would be a hanging mob in Harthill today.
“We have a difficult issue here because we are making a decision which will affect people who live there. But I am of the view that this is required to go some way towards meeting Rotherham’s renewable energy quota.”
The planning board heard that all councils across Britain were expected by the Government to find ways of promoting renewable energy, including wind power, by 2010.
Planning officer Steve Moralee said this guidance meant that the council could grant permission for the wind farm, despite the fact that Loscar Farm was greenbelt land and an area of high landscape value.
According to the chairman of H
arthill with Woodall Parish Council, Ian Lloyd, a survey had revealed that 80 per cent of residents opposed the windfarm.
And after the decision Steve Monaghan, who lives in Littlewood Lane, Thorpe Salvin, said he was “gutted and disgusted” that the scheme had been passed.
He added: “Everybody has been talking about Harthill, but the wind farm will be closer to Thorpe Salvin. Just drive through there today and see how many houses are up for sale because of this.
“There will be even more on the market tomorrow. Nobody has convinced us that this project will be a good thing for anybody other than the farmer and the company behind it. But it’s all about massaging the environmental egos of politicians.”
The application will now be considered by the Department of Communities and Local Government, which is expected to rubber-stamp the council’s decision to allow work to begin.
By Martin Slack
28 March 2008
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