A new generation of giant wind turbines which will soar up to 500 feet above the ground are being planned across Britain.
The biggest of the proposed new turbines are almost three times taller than Nelson’s Column and two-thirds the height of Canary Wharf Tower.
According to official industry documents seen by The Sunday Telegraph, two companies plan to build wind farms each with turbines about 493ft (150 metres) tall in Norfolk and in Lincolnshire – about 80 feet higher than anything currently in existence.
In all there are about 20 projects in the planning pipeline for turbines taller than anything which has been built so far onshore in the UK.
Campaigners, however, fear the new generation of wind farms are far too big and will blight the British landscape.
They argue that the turbines are only economically viable because of consumer subsidies made available by the last Government to encourage renewable energy projects.
Some are being positioned, claim campaigners, in areas of lower than average wind speed, forcing companies to build bigger structures to generate sufficient electricity.
Advances in technology have also meant the bigger turbines are cheaper to build, making them increasingly attractive for energy companies.
In Stallingborough in Lincolnshire, a German entrepreneur has lodged a planning application for two turbines which will be 493ft (150 metres) tall.
Laars Vilmar denied his wind farms would be an eyesore and insisted there had been no local opposition to his plans.
“I would rather have fewer turbines with huge heights and create more electricity and efficiency out of them,” said Mr Vilmar.
In Tivetshall in Norfolk, residents have formed an action group to fight plans – submitted by German energy company Enertrag – for three, 493-ft tall turbines outside their village.
Battle lines have also been drawn up in Berkshire for new 426 feet tall turbines – higher than anything currently onshore in the UK – which would be visible for more than 20 miles.
A planning application for the new wind farm on the outskirts of Reading and close to the M4 has been lodged by Partnerships for Renewables (PFR), a company created by the taxpayer-funded Carbon Trust, to develop sources of renewable energy on public sector land.
But according to one energy think tank, the four turbines at Rushy Mead farm will receive almost £20 million in green subsidies over their 25-year lifespan despite estimates they will generate electricity for fewer than 3,500 households each year.
The subsidy is paid for by increasing all consumers’ electricity bills.
An existing turbine at Green Park on the outskirts of Reading is rated one of the worst performing wind turbines in the country, coming 210th out of 218 for efficiency, according to the think tank the Renewable Energy Foundation.
John Constable, its director of policy and research, said: “It’s not surprising they are this tall because the location is a long way south and a long way inland where there is not that much wind.”
Jan Heard, spokeswoman for the local protest group Householders Against Rushy Mead, said: “The proposed wind farm at Rushy Mead is a prime example of excessive subsidies leading to the completely illogical placement of wind turbines.
“These turbines would be [among] the very biggest installed in the UK to date, far too close to hundreds of residential houses in Lower Earley, and would be a blight on all of the surrounding areas.
“Without the excessive subsidies, there would be no economic and power generation basis for putting industrial wind turbines in a low wind, inland river valley – common sense has left the building.”
The wind farm is planned for a section of farmland, just south of the M4, owned by Reading University. The university will receive rent.
PFR is working with other universities and government agencies on other projects across the UK but the scheme at Rushy Mead is its first to get to the planning stage.
A spokesman for Partnerships for Renewables said: “We have been collecting wind data on the site for two years and have been able to build up a good understanding of the wind regime.
“We are confident that, by selecting the correct turbine for the site, a wind development at the location will generate a significant amount of electricity.
“This is important because any revenues generated will be directly related to the amount of electricity produced, the less electricity produced the less the revenue.”
A spokeswoman for RenewableUK, the trade body for the renewable energy industry, said: “The increase in size is actually improving the economic benefits of wind energy since greater yields can be achieved, while maintaining the low environmental impact of smaller sized turbines.
“In other words, a larger turbine could have a marginally larger diameter, yet produce twice as much electricity per annum. This also means that to achieve a certain target for electricity production you need fewer turbines overall.”
The spokeswoman added: “Those seeking to block wind farm developments on the grounds of aesthetics are actually preventing the flow of thousands of pounds of investment into their local communities.”
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