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Community fights farm turbine plan  

Credit:  By Adam Blakeman, The Sentinel, www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk 22 January 2011 ~~

Plans by a dairy farm to reduce its energy costs by building a wind turbine are set to be approved, despite opposition from community leaders.

The owners of Fields Farm have applied to Newcastle Borough Council to put a twin-bladed turbine on part of their 380-acre site.

If approved, the 20kw turbine would be mounted on a free-standing 20-metre galvanised steel mast, with a total height of 27 metres (88ft).

The total electricity demand for the farm, situated in Wharmadine Lane, Ashley, is around 90,000kw, which works out at about £9,000 per year.

The farm, which has a dairy herd of around 270 milking cows, needs to keep a constant supply of electricity for milking the cows and cooling the milk.

The owners say the turbine would help them to reduce energy costs.

But Loggerheads Parish Council is opposing the turbine, which it says will spoil the appearance of the area.

Parish councillors believes the turbine is “oversized” and “excessive” for the property it would serve.

Parish council chairman June Hodgkins, pictured, said: “The application was discussed in detail at a parish council meeting and it was felt that if the turbine is built, it would be somewhat of an eyesore in the area.”

Ashley Howells, Conservative borough and parish councillor for Loggerheads, will speak out against the turbine at Tuesday’s borough council planning committee meeting, when the application will be decided.

Planning officers have recommended that councillors on the committee approve the application, and have played down the visual impact it would have on the area. They say the renewable energy benefits of the application outweigh the “limited” visual harm.

But Mr Howells said: “We believe this application will have a negative impact on the countryside.

“There has been a failure by the planning officer to obtain reports from the Ministry of Defence, in connection with helicopter training in the area.

“The lanes leading to the site are also too narrow for the equipment to be taken to the farm.

“Two previous applications for wind turbines in the Loggerheads and Whitmore ward have been refused and I believe this one should be too.”

The most recent wind turbine plans for the area where for Maer Hills, near Newcastle, where councillors rejected proposals to build four, 125-metre (400ft) wind turbines in February 2009.

The nearest residential property to the farm is a cottage situated 400 metres away.

In its application, agent Barbers Rural Consultancy, states: “The primary objective of the wind turbine will be to reduce the applicant’s need to purchase power.

“At times when electricity is not required on the property, surplus energy will be exported to the national grid, though this is unlikely to be often due to the 24-hour demand of electricity in the farm houses.

“It was felt this turbine would be the most visually acceptable turbine model in the landscape and the most suitable for the specific site characteristics.”

Source:  By Adam Blakeman, The Sentinel, www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk 22 January 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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