Riders and racehorse trainers are campaigning against new plans to erect two wind turbines in an area of outstanding natural beauty near Lambourn, West Berkshire.
An application in January by Sheepdrove Organic Farm proposes erecting two turbines – one 40.5m high and one at 22.75m.
Campaign group Friends of the Lambourn Downs (FOLD) has collected 178 signatures with which to a petition to West Berkshire Council. They say the turbine would be noisy and unsightly.
Jane Rowlinson from FOLD said: “The whole area is criss-crossed by bridleways and footpaths. Not only will it desecrate the beautiful landscape but being so close to the racing yards it could effect the area economically.”
Jump jockey Mark Bradburne lives at Sheepdrove. Although Lambourn is known as ‘the Valley of the Racehorse’ he said pleasure riders would be most affected. He has two children under five who ride in the area and is worried about safety.
“It could scare the ponies. Over a period of time horses would get used to it but what about riders visiting the area? The turbines can be seen for miles and the noise will be huge.
“Some trainers send their strings up here for longer hacks, but this would stop them – you wouldn’t take a racehorse near a wind turbine if you didn’t have to.”
Trainer Clive Cox, based at Sheepdrove, has objected to the planning proposal, saying he “completely opposes” it and that it would have a “huge implication into the well-being of the health and safety” of the 85 horses he has in training.
The racing industry is also worried about starting a precendent.
“It wouldn’t effect the bulk of trainers to start with but the main worry is that if these are built then more will pop up nearer to the main training centre,” said a Jockey Club Estates spokesman.
A spokesman for Sheepdrove Organic Farms said they were “aware of concerns” and have modified plans to reduce all “adverse impacts” significantly.
This is not the first time an attempt to harness wind power in the area has been made. In 2007 champion jockey AP McCoy staunchly opposed a proposal to build an 81m turbine at Baydon, two miles from Lambourn. Permission was denied. An application for an identical proposal on the site was also sought in 2003 but was also refused.
This news story was first published in the current issue of Horse & Hound (31 March, 2011)