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Turbine views given an airing

Around 60 people gathered at Old Town Community Centre last week to air their views about a proposed second large wind turbine on the Wadsworth sky line.

The meeting heard from those opposed to and supporting the application.

Many of those present expressed deep concern about the planning process, raising questions about whether the application for the existing turbine now in operation on the moors by the reservoir had been properly handled by Calderdale Council.

One resident spoke of his dismay at the noise from the turbine he could hear from his home and many expressed the view that such large turbines not only destroyed the area’s views for those living nearby but for those looking across from Heptonstall and Horsehold.

There was much apprehension about the latest application to erect a new turbine on land at Allswell Farm, home of the Hebden Bridge Equestrian Centre, approximately 100 metres away. People raised the issues of spoiled views, danger to bird life, and a possible risk to tourism from having more large turbines in the area.

But others stressed that they did not feel that turbines ruined the landscape and that they were a necessary sign of people taking responsibility for their energy needs at a time of global warming and declining resources of fossil fuels. The point was made that cats posed more of a threat to wild birds than wind turbines.

The objections discussed in Old Town have been heard in the Calder Valley before. But with this latest application come claims that bigger turbines are aimed at making a profit from the generous payments available for electricity generated and fed into the National Grid. Those objecting to the new application say the scale is “semi industrial” not domestic.

Several village residents said they approved of renewable energy and did not object to smaller “domestic” turbines now in use at a number homes in the area. But there was anger at the idea that larger turbines could make money at the expense of those who wanted their views turbine free.

Views were expressed that this amounted to greed and putting personal financial interests above genuine concern for the environment. It was argued that if people wanted to generate green energy they could do that with smaller turbines.

So what do the latest applicants say to such claims?

Tamsin Cowens of Allswell Farm was listening carefully to points made at the meeting. She told Hebden Bridge Transition Town that the turbine was definitely not a money making business but was about becoming carbon neutral. “If this was about greed we would be applying to put up three or four turbines, not just one.”

She said the equestrian centre was facing rising fuel and feed costs. Income from clean energy would offset those increasing costs and limit any price rises for centre users. Asked about the amount the turbine would bring in, she did not have a figure available and said she did not know how the figure of £6,000 a year quoted at the meeting had been calculated. Mrs Cowens said that much of the electricity used round here comes from coal or nuclear. Coal had to be mined and imported and then transported round the country, all of which used fuel. Wind energy by comparison was “clean and friendly”.

She was confident that support for turbines in the area outweighed the opposition. As more turbines appear across the Calder Valley these debates will continue.

The prospect of people getting together to invest in renewable energy projects that benefit whole communities not just those who can afford to invest individually was raised at the meeting although interest appeared low. Such projects will be the subject of a forthcoming Transition Town column.