Ambitious plans for three large wind turbines at the University of Nottingham have prompted a debate about the environment in the city.
The university claims the 125m-tall structures would produce a third of the electricity its campus needs and cut its carbon emissions by 7,000 tonnes every year.
But concerns have been raised about the visual impact of the towers – and the potential noise pollution they could create.
Professor Alan Dodson, pro-vice-chancellor for infrastructure and environment, said they would produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 5,000 houses and would pay for themselves in eight to 10 years.
He said: “Wind energy is a clean, renewable source of energy which produces no greenhouse gas emissions or waste products, thus helping in the battle against climate change.”
Professor Dodson said future government capital funding to universities will be affected by carbon reduction performance.
This means that large-scale renewable-energy generation, such as the wind turbines, would help ensure the university can continue to pursue its aim of excellence in education and world-leading research, he said.
The turbines would be built on land known as Grove Farm, off Thane Road, between Beeston Rylands and Clifton, alongside the River Trent.
Professor Dodson said he expected some people would oppose the plans because of their prominence on the Nottingham skyline.
“We expect there to be some objections,” he said. “I think the only possible objections that have any validity are ones from the point of view of the visual impact – and those are subjective.
“People live with electricity pylons all over the place, and actually having high-voltage electricity cables over your head is probably more questionable than having a wind turbine over your head.
“But we have come to live with big pylons and not question them.”
He said that background noise surveys had been carried out and found the turbines would be within acceptable levels. They would be of the latest generation, designed to be quieter.
The tip of the turbines would stretch to more than twice the size of the University of Nottingham’s Aspire sculpture – which at 60m is the tallest sculpture in the UK
They would also reach higher than the cooling towers at Ratcliffe-on-Soar, which stand at 115m.
Consultation will begin soon.
Beeston Rylands resident Russell Whiting, 24, of Beech Avenue, said: “It is a good idea in principle – but we have to make sure it fits in with the local scenery and it is not going to be an eyesore.
“I would want to ensure we don’t have areas of public footpaths cut off, and [that] all the riverbanks are open for fishing.
“I would also want to know that it is not going to affect wildlife.”
Sat Bains, Nottingham’s only Michelin-starred chef, whose restaurant and hotel is close to the proposed site, said: “I’m all for the environment and efficiency savings, and I don’t mind it looking an eyesore, because in the location I’m in I’ve already got a flyover and electricity pylons.
“If there is no noise I wouldn’t have a problem, but I have got a hotel and if it affects the sleep of guests, I’m in trouble.”
Jackie Smith, of Riverside Golf Centre, which is next to Grove Farm, said: “I think [turbines] are fantastic. Harnessing the world’s natural resources is a wonderful thing.
“[But] on a business level I don’t know. It depends how close it is to our business and the noise factor.”
Brendan Clarke-Smith, city councillor for Clifton North, said: “Wind turbines generally I don’t have a problem with, especially if they are in the middle of nowhere. If they are in the middle of a city, almost, it’s quite different.
“Before I back anything, I would want to know about noise more than anything. If it is getting on people’s nerves, that would be a concern.
“It’s all very well protecting the environment but it’s about people’s living environment.”
Ian Malcolm, city councillor for Clifton South, lives in the Clifton Grove estate overlooking the site across the Trent. He said the visual and noise impact would be the main concerns. “It is going to be hard to convince residents,” he said.
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