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Safety fears over planned turbines

Families living in the shadow of Craven’s first ever wind turbines fear their replacement could blight their lives.

Plans to build two new 400-feet-tall turbines – twice the height of the four aged machines at Draughton – also pose a danger, they claim.

One of the present turbines has already lost its sails – blown off in heavy winds in the spring – and the 11 people living less than 300 metres from the structures believe the new turbines present an even greater threat to their safety.

The new machines, on land owned by the Duke of Devonshire next to the A65, will produce about 80 per cent of the electric power needed at the pumping site.

Carolyn Whitaker, of East Berwick House, Draughton, a mother of three small children, said: “We are in favour of green energy, but this is a step too far.

“We question the need for them and also fear for our safety. Turbines so much taller are going to be even more vulnerable to high winds and if a sail comes off, as the other did, it will be much more dangerous.

“We ask whether they are necessary. In the two-and-a-half years we have lived here, we have never seen all four going at the same time.”

Her neighbour, mother of three Vanessa Leigh, said: “The new ones will be a hell of a lot bigger and they are bound to make a noise. If a sail has come off once it could come off again.”

And her husband Danny accused Yorkshire Water, which is planning the £6 million project, of failing to keep him and his neighbours properly informed of their plans.

“They are going to be a big eyesore and noisy. And they will be closer to our property than the minimum standard,” he said.

Water bosses have been holding meetings with communities in the area, last week going out to Addingham Parish Council and also making a presentation at Draughton.

Officials also attended a meeting of Ilkley Parish Council on Monday as part of its consultation process.

Ilkley parish council planning committee chairman Kate Brown said it was too early to decide what representations would be made to Craven District Council’s planning committee, which will make the final decision on the application in the autumn.

Coun Brown said: “We have had a couple of letters from residents expressing concerns, but we will have to make a judgement when more people have heard about the plans.”

Yorkshire Water is also planning drop-in sessions so the public can have a closer look at the plans.

The first one will take place on Wednesday (June 11) at Bolton Abbey Village Hall when people can call in between 5pm and 8pm.

Project manager Michael Ward said: “Turbines tend to generate polarised opinions and that’s certainly been our experience as Yorkshire Water has developed its green energy strategy, installing turbines at a number of locations after significant consultation across the region in recent months.

“For example, our turbines at Loftsome Bridge, near Selby, have been welcomed as landmarks and there was little resistance to the installation of another at our waste water treatment works at Saltend, near Hull.

“But we’re far from complacent about public opinion and we’d be interested to hear what people in the Chelker area think before finalising our plans.

“We hope the drop-in will serve as an additional opportunity for the public to comment.”

Craven Herald & Pioneer

6 June 2008