A national environment organisation has added its weight to objections against plans for a wind turbine farm on the Yorkshire Wolds, saying bats, great crested newts and birds could be adversely affected.
RWE Npower Renewables has applied to Ryedale District Council to build 10 turbines measuring 126 metres (413ft) to the blade tips near the village of East Heslerton, Malton, but Natural England says a number of protected species could be harmed if the application gets the go-ahead.
The company claims that if approved enough electricity to power 14,500 homes would be generated. But the application has led to a raft of national groups objecting to the plans.
One of the first out of the blocks was the Ministry of Defence which claimed “unacceptable interference” to the radar at RAF Linton-on-Ouse near Easingwold would result.
Richard Maisey, safeguarding assistant for wind energy at the Ministry, said the turbines could result in “mis-identification or mis-location of aircraft which would have potential flight safety implications”.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England was also withering in its criticism, saying: “The developers could hardly have chosen a site with a more negative impact on the location if that had been their intention” while English Heritage also complained the plans would have an impact on the “landscape and its heritage assets”.
Even the British Horse Society rode into the action, saying the plans could potentially damage the tourism income generated in the area, riders eager to sample picturesque scenery being less likely to enjoy riding with huge turbines springing up at them.
In a letter to the council, the lead adviser on land use operations at Natural England, Deborah Hall, said: “Natural England is a non-Departmental public body. Our statutory purpose is to ensure that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations, thereby contributing to sustainable development.
“We have considered the proposal against the full range of Natural England’s interests in the natural environment…Natural England objects to the proposed development on the basis that there is reasonable likelihood of legally protected species being present and adversely affected by the development.
“The application contains insufficient survey information to demonstrate whether or not the development would have an adverse effect on legally protected species.
“For this reason we recommend that you either refuse planning permission or defer a decision pending a revised proposal that addresses the deficiences.
“Our concerns relate specifically to the likely impact upon bats, great crested news and birds.”
It adds: “In order to assess the potential implications on protected species, any subsequent planning application should include the following information:
“An appropriate buffer zone around the development site of at least 500 metres (547 yards) should have been surveyed.
“In particular for the presence of great crested newt ponds within 500 metres of turbine locations, bat foraging/roosts and bird surveys. Natural England would expect further clarification on this matter.”
But RWE has consistently and robustly defended its plans saying the company had consulted with Ryedale District Council, various parish councils, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Natural England, English Heritage, Ministry of Defence, the Environment Agency and other organisations in helping it shape the design of the proposed wind farm.
It also says that a public exhibition held last summer enjoyed a positive reception, a majority of those taking part supporting its proposals.
If the plans are approved the company hopes work could begin as soon as next year.
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