A possible collapse of a 417ft turbine, noise fears and vibration are not the only things that trouble Tony Skirrow about Asda’s wind turbine plan. He is also unhappy with the way West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC) has been dealing with the application.
So far Asda’s planning application for the 417ft turbine has been recommended for approval by WNDC planning officers, but a final decision is not expected until the end of this month.
Mr Skirrow said the turbine would not fit in with the landscape, could pose major safety risks, and that the WNDC had ignored local planning rules in recommending the application for approval.
He said: “It’s going to stand out like a sore thumb and will alter the appearance of Northampton for the next 50 years. And there are a lot of safety concerns.”
Among his worries are the threat of noise and vibration, the overall effectiveness of a turbine in an area so far from the sea, and the fear it could fall over in high winds.
“There are guidelines to planning policy which advise you should allow at least the fall-over height of the turbine between it and any roads or other developments. With the size of this turbine the distance should be 120m away but that’s clearly not the case. It actually overlooks Asda’s building and a right-of-way. There’s a public footpath which runs down the side of Asda’s building as well as, I believe, a nursery inside.
“Asda is part of an American company and US companies don’t do anything unless there is an incentive. PR is a factor and I can see as soon as it goes up all of Asda’s TV adverts will feature a wind turbine.”
But the campaigner’s gripes do not end with ASDA. Mr Skirrow said the WNDC was wilfully allowing national planning guidelines to get in the way of local planning rules.
He said: “The planning officers have taken as read what Asda have said in their proposal. Some of the words in the planning report have been copied verbatim rather than carrying out their own research.
“The local plan has height restrictions for buildings in Brackmills; on the outskirts it is 50m but the turbine would be 150m.
“The skyline between Great Houghton and Hardingstone is protected in the planning policy, yet the WNDC report recommends the application to be approved. Those points have been overlooked.
“In Great Houghton we are not opposed to all wind turbines. We have supported a wind turbine in on a residential road in the village. It was a little one 11 metres high.
“A couple in our village applied for permission to put solar panels on their house and we supported that too. But it was denied planning permission on the grounds it wasn’t in keeping with the building. That property is probably one of the closest to the wind turbine.”
25 June 2008
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