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Objections fly in over wind farm proposals

More objections from major bodies have been lodged over the plans to set up a wind turbine farm at West Heslerton.

The latest protests have come from the British Horse Society and Natural England.

Catriona Cook, the regional access officer for the BHS said it would be a “perverse” decision if the development went ahead to promote an industry which relied on Government subsidy over that of an unsubsidised horse industry.

And Natural England’s Deborah Hall, lead adviser for land use operations, said they were objecting on the basis there was a reasonable likelihood of legally protected species being present who would be adversely affected by the development.

The proposal is to build ten 126 metre (413 ft) high wind turbines along the Wolds escarpment at Heslerton.

Campaigners against the plan claim that a commercial lobbying group has been “distorting” the consultation phase of the planning process in a bid to win support.

But John Everett of Yes2Wind argues there was widespread support for the project and they only helped people to compose a letter which reflected their view but those signing it had to be in full agreement with the final version.

The protestors also have the backing of English Heritage, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Ministry of Defence.

Natural England, a non-departmental public body, said their concerns related to bats, great crested newts and birds.

It says an appropriate buffer zone around the development of at least 500 metres should have been surveyed and it expects “further clarification” on this matter.

The British Horse Society says the proposal could affect tourism as the promoted Ride-UK route for horse riders and cyclists runs through the site and they bring in much needed income to the local economy and farmers who have diversified into equestrian tourism.

The horse industry contributed around £1 million a year into the local economy with money spent on local liveries, farriers, feed merchants, vets and garages while much of the resulting profit from the proposed windfarm would invariably go out of the area.

The BHS thinks it would only be a matter of time before a rider, especially those of young horses, had an accident on the nearby road or bridleway because of the wind turbines.

However, planning officials have received support from local people.

One, Asa Evans of Ganton says in a letter to the council: “What better place to have a wind farm than on the Wolds – an area that’s always windy with a skyline to fill. It’s time to take responsibility for our energy and renewables are a vital part of that process.”