An application to build a huge wind farm along the Wolds escarpment near Malton has been criticised by council chiefs over “misleading” photography used.
Scarborough Council says photography in RWE npower renewables’ bid to build 10 413ft wind turbines at land at Ling Hall Farm, East Heslerton, fails to demonstrate that the site will not dominate the surrounding landscape.
Now the council’s planning department has written to Ryedale District Council – which will judge the application – highlighting flaws in the developer’s assessment of the visual and cumulative impact of the proposed wind farm, relating to inadequate photomontage as well as omission of key viewpoints.
The report says: “This council considers that the visual and cumulative impact on the landscape of the Wolds, the Wolds Escarpment, the Vale of Pickering and the southern section of the North Yorkshire Moors have not been adequately assessed, particularly as outlined in this report from the use of wintertime photographs only and from omission of key viewpoints.
“In the absence of photomontages from the above locations and full cumulative impact assessments the applicants have not adequately demonstrated that the proposals would not dominate the landscape and not be visually detrimental to both the surrounding area and wider landscape.”
Farmer Paul Stephens of Heslerton Wind Farm Action Group said he was not surprised by the recommendations in the report.
He said: “We have always contested RWE npower renewables’ misleading and unsubstantiated claim that this development will have ‘minimal environmental and social impacts and is sympathetic to the surrounding area’.
“The photography used in their application was taken in the snow and provides no depth of field or perspective – it is virtually impossible to distinguish the prominence of the Wolds as a major landscape feature.
“This proposal is riddled with planning infringements and economies of truth, not least the basic false premise concerning the energy generating power of wind.
“We hope Ryedale District Council is mindful of its responsibility to act in the best interests of this area and that national Government reverses its mistaken policy for wind power – before any more of our countryside is needlessly sacrificed.”
The application has generated opposition since the plans were revealed with a host of major national bodies writing to object to the scheme including the Ministry of Defence which fears radar interference, English Heritage which has concerns over the effect on the area’s character, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England which claims it would have been difficult to find a less suitable location.
Even the British Horse Society has ridden forward to attack the plans saying they may hinder tourism.
Opponents also claim that 93 per cent of neighbouring parish councils also oppose the scheme. Villagers in Sherburn have also submitted a petition signed by 61 objectors.
They say this is a more accurate reflection of local feeling rather than the “65 per cent local approval” claimed by the developer, which they say relates to a public exhibition held last year and attended by 200 people. Martin Wood, RWE npower renewables developer, said: “A huge amount of work has gone into ensuring the design of the East Heslerton Wind Farm is sympathetic to the surrounding area.
“This process required that we consult with a wide range of organisations to understand and respond to any concerns, ahead of finalising our proposals.
“We are aware of the consultation response submitted by Scarborough Borough Council and as with all the consultation responses submitted, we will give any issues raised due consideration prior to responding to Ryedale District Council.”
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