A new bid to restore full wind power to the controversial Chelker Reservoir site could cost more than £5 million.
Kelda Water Services (KWS) want to demolish four ‘obsolete’ wind turbines at the side of the reservoir, near Addingham, and replace them with three new structures, each standing at more than 260ft tall.
They say the turbines could produce enough electricity for 1,600 homes and save almost 3,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions and continue to power pumping stations at Chelker and Lobwood.
But the proposals from KWS, a sister company to current turbine operators Yorkshire Water, have already met with fierce opposition from people living near the reservoir.
They say the plans are no better than an application for two 410ft high turbines refused by Craven District Council last year.
Those proposals were rejected on the grounds they would have an adverse impact on the landscape and residential amenity of the area and would detract from the recreational experience of visitors to the nearby Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.
Mark Fox, of KWS, said his company was looking forward to “engaging with members of local community” after sending consultation letters to more than 750 properties near the site.
He said he was fully aware of the sensitive nature of the new proposals.
“Our latest plans for Chelker represent an opportunity to use a site which in the past provided for our onsite energy needs,” Mr Fox said.
“Should Craven District Council give our proposals the thumbs-up it would reduce considerably our reliance on other non-renewable energy sources.
“We are fully of Chelker’s location within a sensitive location and will ensure that the impact on the landscape is fully taken into account when designing the turbine lay-out.”
Currently only two of the four turbines at the site are in operation, and reports suggest the power output is under 10 per cent of capacity from the structures, with one report claiming the figure is just 5.3 per cent.
And Mr Fox conceded the current turbines, which began operation in 1992, have had their day.
“Kelda Water Services is aware that the current wind turbines at Chelker Reservoir are not fulfilling their potential and these proposals offer the opportunity to utilise the possibilities wind power offers at this site,” he said.
“One turbine has no blades at all and another has blades but does not work.
“The turbines are out of date and obsolete and there are no spare parts for them.”
Mr Fox said if the proposals, which have not yet been submitted to the council, were passed, a contract for the work would go out for tender and he expected the whole projects to cost between £5m and £5.5m.
KWS has applied to build a 36m mast to monitor background noise at the site as part of an environmental assessment report for future planning applications and say more details of public exhibitions and meetings will be announced after the holiday period.
Ian Taylor, chairman of Addingham Parish Council, welcomed the KWS decision to consult with local residents before a formal application is submitted.
“It’s a welcome initiative to make sure there’s an informed debate,” he said.
“Last time there was a really mixed reaction. Some people felt the environmental benefits outweighed the visual impact but a similar number had the opposite view.”
Mr Taylor said parish council would not get a formal input into the planning application when it is submitted, as it is over the border in the Craven district but would still offer a view.
“If people have strong views they should make them known to the council before we meet to discuss the proposals,” he said.
Some families living close to the windfarm site say the turbines are not good for their health and lifestyle.
“The turbines are still too close to our homes and could pose a real danger,” said Vanessa Leigh, who lives in the shadow of the turbines at East Berwick, Draughton.
Her mother-in-law, Catherine Leigh, who has lived at East Berwick Farm for 23 years, said the closest turbine would be within 350 metres of her property and all three would be within 800 metres.
“These turbines are way, way too close,” she said.
“We are concerned about the noise and the visual impact. The turbines will control how we live our lives. It will be severely detrimental.”
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