August 24, 2010

Proposed wind farm ‘would spoil woodland and wildlife habitat’

By Andrew Robinson, Yorkshire Post, 24 August 2010

A retired builder fears that a proposed wind farm could ruin the wildlife habitat he has spent 12 years creating.

Steve Sellars has invested £20,000 of his own money into the Birds Edge Countyside Project at Birds Edge, near Huddersfield, and volunteers have contributed thousands of hours of their time.

He believes wind turbines will deter visits by birds and spoil its tranquillity.

Mr Sellars, a 65-year retired builder and landscaper from Holmfirth, fears that years of hard work could be undone if a proposal for four wind turbines at Dearne Head – one of them close to the nature reserve –is given planning permission. He said: “I have personally invested £20,000 in the last 12 years, with £4,000 coming from Kirklees Council. Paths are being created for use by disabled people and we have planted 5,000 trees.

“The nature reserve itself is established, we just need to finish off the paths.”

He hopes that the full project will be completed by next spring.

But he and other volunteers involved in the long-running woodland project are worried that a wind farm proposal could spell the end of their dream.

“One of the proposed wind turbines will be 150 metres away from the edge of our woodland,” he added.

“We are worried that it will affect the wildlife, particularly the constant ‘whoosh and throb’ noises of the blades.”

Mr Sellars, who owns the 12.5 acres wildlife site, also has plans to create three stables on the site and eventually provide riding facilities for the disabled.

He also recently applied to build a log cabin for holiday use but this was turned down.

Mr Sellars is among around 300 objectors to the wind farm scheme.

In an objection letter to the council, he expresses his annoyance at the possibility that the wind farm could scupper 12 years of hard work.

He said: “Our project is intended to provide a quiet and relaxing wildlife haven with public access for all and with the emphasis on disabled users.

“Volunteers with physical and mental disabilities now regularly train and work on the project. We are particularly concerned with the effect on people with autism, epilepsy and other mental disabilities, of which there are a few in the trainee and volunteer groups.

“The applicants have stated somewhere in their copious documents that there are no public rights of way that will be affected. Our paths are not recorded rights of way but they are open to the public and one path passes along the boundary with the application site for turbine number two.”

He said turbine two would have a “massive impact” on wildlife as it will “tower above our trees like a giant scarecrow”.

And he claimed that endangered species would be affected.

“Willow tits have been sighted. We also have woodcock, snipe, migrating twite, regular visits from heron and curlew and a ringed plover enjoyed a few days at our wetland area.”

He added: “Turbine two would absolutely ruin our bit of countryside and volunteers would no longer look forward to working in a peaceful, tranquil setting and the money invested would be wasted.”

A statement submitted by the developer, Pure Renewable Energies, to the council accepted that birds could potentially collide with the turbines but this would not have an adverse impact on bird populations or the viability of any species.

It added that turbines may also present a barrier to the movement of birds. “The effect this would have on a population is subtle, and difficult to predict with any great certainty.”

The final day for commenting on the plans is tomorrow.

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