At the Scarborough Borough Council Planning Meeting held on the 26th May 2011, councillors were asked under the statutory consultation process to comment on the West Heslerton Wind Farm Application for 10 x 126 metre turbines.
The debate started with Planning Officer Mr Green explaining to the committee the reasoning behind his recommendations for refusal. The councillors were shown a number of photomontages submitted by the developer RWE nPower Renewables for the application and Mr Green immediately pointed out the poor quality of the images being displayed, taken in the middle of winter with a large covering of snow across the ground made it very hard to distinguish even the skyline.
He went on to say that the developers were expecting us to imagine from a great distance white turbines against snow covered ground, against a white cloudy sky, hardly an example of the true visual impact that this development would have, he enhanced his argument by stating that the photomontages were also very few in number and not what SBC had asked to see at the initial scoping stage. Adding to his arguments the planning officer stated “that in fact the turbines were not even in the photomontages but were supplied in a wireframe diagram below”, he pointed out that this baffled him as a thick gray line run along the front of the wireframe diagram and that he had no idea was that was all about, the developer was expecting us to try and look at the wireframes and then transpose them onto the photomontages above, totally unrealistic.
Councillors were then shown visibility maps of where these turbines would actually be visible from; it was frightening looking at these maps, the distance that this development would dominate covered nearly the entire Yorkshire Wolds within the district and a lot of the Vale of Pickering. Mr Green explained that with the other wind farms already in existence and the other proposals at South Dale and Copmanthorpe lingering in the planning system the cumulative effect would add to the objections against this application.
Cllr Godfrey Allanson addressed the committee stating “that this was all part of the dash for cash” he went to say that he and his wife walked this area on regular occasions and valued this landscape greatly, “The A64 and the Vale of Pickering are the gateway into Scarborough and the Heritage Coast” he said. Cllr Allanson was sure that tourists coming in to the area would not want to be welcomed by a commercial wind farm development dominating as they entered for their holidays.
The debate was then thrown open to other councillors and a few other comments were made on the application, the general flavour was to follow the officer’s recommendations for refusal, the vote was cast and it was a unanimous decision that SBC should send Ryedale their official objection to this application.
It seems that the message has now been sent out, the A64, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Vale of Pickering are the gateway into Scarborough and our Heritage Coast and that this highly sensitive landscape is therefore unsuitable for this type of commercial development.
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