In March 2010 an application for a new twenty 127m tall turbine wind farm on Claughton and Whit Moors, over 6km inside the Forest of Bowland AONB, was unanimously refused by Lancaster City Council. Unfortunately the applicant, Community Windpower Ltd., has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate and a Public Inquiry will be held in May this year. In parallel Community Windpower has submitted another application for the same site for thirteen turbines of similar size. This application will be heard by Lancaster City Council in March.
There is an existing wind farm at Caton Moor immediately to the west consisting of eight 90m turbines which was initially refused planning permission but ultimately passed on appeal. This should never have been sanctioned and it should not be used as a precedent for the new application which covers a much larger area and will be significantly more prominent covering the whole upland peat moor across into Roeburndale. The new development area covers approximately four times the area of the existing wind farm and will impact directly on a Biological Heritage site and on the Bowland Fells Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (Hen Harrier, Natural England).
The applicant’s Ecology Section in the Environmental Statement is very poor but does record Hen Harrier (winter), Merlin and Peregrine (all year) using the site. Short Eared Owls have also been recorded in the area. There is a Peregrine territory very close to the new site. In addition the target area is very important for breeding waders including lap wing, curlew, oyster catcher, snipe and redshank. Golden plovers are also present in significant numbers.
Five of the seven successful Hen Harrier nesting attempts in England in 2010 were on the United Utilities estate in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, which remains this bird’s only English stronghold. Their struggle for survival does not need added risks from wind farm proliferation. We are told that the blades are too high for foraging Hen Harriers however Don Scott reported the tragic killing of a Hen Harrier in County Antrim by a wind turbine impact in the winter of 2006-07. We cannot afford the loss of a single Hen Harrier in the Forest of Bowland.
The new turbines will be 40% higher than the existing ones and thirteen of these will increase the blade impact area by more than 260% over the risk already in place at the Caton Moor wind farm. The collision risk will also be extended over a much greater area of the moors, all of it between the existing wind farm site and the Hen Harrier breeding grounds in Bowland.
The statutory consultees, Natural England, the RSPB, Lancashire Wildlife Trust, and the County Council ecologist allobjected to the refused 20 turbine scheme. They are currently maintaining their objections for the revised thirteen turbine scheme due to poor ecological survey work, inadequate and incorrect (birds) risk analysis and unacceptable mitigation.
The applicant, Community Windpower Ltd., is targeting sites in or near to AONBs in England for wind farms. As well as this site they are looking at Stainmore and a site at Davidstow near Bodmin in Cornwall. There is nothing community about them, the company is owned by two people who live in Cheshire and who are on the Green Rich List – these wind farm owners are making a fortune from us from our electricity bills and have a complete disregard for wildlife / ecology issues and should not be trusted anywhere near our eco systems, particularly in AONBs.
We recognise that the subsidy system which leads to these applications is wrong; unfortunately changing this is going to take time. Meanwhile we have to fight these applications where our ecology and landscape are at risk.
If you require further information, including on how to object to these applications, or have data on wind turbine bird strikes, please contact Tim Sarney:
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