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Ill wind blowing over farm site proposal  

Council bosses in Sheffield have identified Westwood Country Park, in High Green, as the location for the city’s first-ever wind farm. But that has already blown up a storm of opposition from local people:

PERCHED at the top of Sheffield between Tankersley Park Golf Course and dozens of neat 1980s-style houses stands one of the city’s least-known parks.

Westwood Country Park is on the periphery of the city, but is at the heart of a developing row over where to site the city’s first wind farm.

Sheffield Council has approved proposals for a feasibility study for the city’s first wind turbine site in Westwood Country Park. If it recommends going ahead it could see up to six 100-metre turbines whirring away in around 18 months.

But the plan worries Andy Redfern, a company director, who has lived on Merbeck Drive, High Green, for nearly 20 years. His pleasant family home is practically the last in Sheffield before the Barnsley border.

His sitting room looks out on the hillside of Westwood Country Park – smack where Sheffield Council hopes to site the wind farm.

He fears he and his family, his wife Adele and two young children Grace and Henry, will be plagued by the noise of constantly turning blades.

“We won’t be able to open our windows in summer or enjoy our garden,” said Mr Redfern.

“And of course there will be the visual intrusion. We will see these things whirring away in the corner of our eye whenever we are in our sitting room.”

He says he was horrified when he first read of the plans in The Star earlier this year.

Together with other concerned residents he formed the Save Westwood Country Park group, which is steering the opposition to the wind farm. If built they say the wind farm would blight the lives of hundreds of families, as well as building on cherished parkland.

The group says a packed public meeting at Lound Side School in Chapeltown last month which saw around 200 people voice their opposition to the wind farm plan.

“There are no other sites in the UK that are near so many estates,” added Andy. “It is in the green belt and it is a country park – a public amenity. If they can do this here then they will be able to do it anywhere.”

Mr Redfern says efforts by the Save Westwood Country Park group to get information from officers at Sheffield Council had so far proved fruitless.

The campaigners want to know which developers have already been approached about the plan, and what trusts or covenants exist with regard to the country park.

“It is madness what they are proposing,” he added. “We think it is completely abhorrent and plain wrong.”

Chris Jones, a research associate at Sheffield University, who carried out studies into the issue of wind farms last summer, found that while people in the High Green and Thorpe Hesley areas were fairly sympathetic to the idea of wind farms, support dropped sharply if people thought they would be placed near them.

But Mr Redfern denies campaigners are adopting a NIMBY – not in my back yard – approach.

“We are not NIMBYs,” he insisted.

By Tony Belshaw

The Star

14 April 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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