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Protests bring a halt to wind farm scheme

Plans for a “farm” of wind turbines higher than York Minster in the Terrington Bank area have come to a halt following protest from residents and councillors.

The Mercury has been told that the plans will not proceed because landowners have backed out.

Three landowners had been approached by Scottish Power to see if they would be willing to lease out land for the erection of wind turbines and associated power lines.

But the possibility of having nine turbines or more of industrial size on the flat plain between Dasket Hill and Terrington Bank immediately brought protests from worried residents as well as county and district councillors.

Critics argued that the proposed areas were unsuitable and the turbines would spoil the natural beauty of the landscape and would have little regard for the heritage and history of the area or the wildlife.

But supporters said there was a need to find alternative sources of energy and that as they would be in a valley there would be no visual intrusion. Terrington and Sheriff Hutton Parish Councils called special meetings last summer to discuss the proposals to erect the turbines in those areas.

A spokesman for Scottish Power said at the time the company was having initial discussions with three landowners as part of a feasibility study but there were no concrete plans.

He said: “If we are interested in the site there is a very extensive process we have to go through before anything would happen.”

That would have meant talks with Natural England, English Heritage, North Yorkshire County Council, Ryedale District Council and parishes councils, both before and after submitting a planning application.

More than 100 people attended one of the protest meetings and John Goodwill, chairman of Terrington Parish Council, said no-one was in favour of the scheme which would be a blot on the landscape.

More than 150 members of the public attended a meeting called by Sheriff Hutton Parish Council to discuss the issue and an action group involving residents was set up.

Among those supporting the protestors was County Cllr Clare Wood who represents Hovingham and Sheriff Hutton.

She said that while she was not against wind turbines she was against siting them in that area.

Although the proposed sites were not in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty they were on its back door and the ANOB would oppose their siting.

She was backed by Cllr Keith Knaggs, leader of Ryedale District Council, who felt the countryside would have been blighted by them for little gain. He said this week that the decision not to proceed was a win for public opinion.

“Whatever one’s views on renewable energy, in this case – where wind speeds are at best marginal – it looked more like “subsidy-farming” than environmentalism,” he said.

Wind farms have been built with a Government subsidy resulting in a charge on electricity bills.

Critics argue that existing wind farms across the country only operate at up to 30 per cent of official capacity.