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‘Wolds are beautiful – let’s keep it that way’

Flamborough Cliffs, Fraisthorpe beach, Rudstone’s monolith. It appears every landmark in the Wolds could be in the shadow of wind turbines.

The big blue skies and rolling landscapes that have inspired renowned landscape painter David Hockney could be changed beyond recognition.

A total of 14 developments across the Wolds are under consideration.

But there is a growing army of campaigners preparing for battle to fight the impending deluge.

A major strength of the No To The Wolds Wind Farm Group, set up six months ago, is the coming together of several smaller groups.

Rather than fight individual wind turbine applications, residents have formed a wider group, hoping to gain strength in numbers.

“David Hockney said about the Wolds, ‘I think I have found paradise’,” said Bempton-based campaigner David Hinde.

“This is about the bigger picture. This area is all about image.

“Unless the Wolds are protected, then you cannot promote the area as having big blue skies or open landscapes.

“I have worked for two regional tourist boards and have been involved in a number of planning applications over the years.

“I know how devastating these kind of developments could be to tourism in the area.”

Mr Hinde hopes the new group will provide a platform for residents to have their voices heard.

“Residents need somewhere to go to express their emotions and anger over these developments,” he said.

“A lot of people are nervous about the planning process and don’t know how to object. We can give them a voice.”

The group called on Hockney, 74, to back the campaign and he has since given his support.

Plans have been submitted for nine turbines at Thornholme Field, close to Woldgate, where many of Hockney’s recent paintings have been set.

The Bridlington-based artist said: “They are big and ugly things and they are completely out of scale.

“But nobody talks about beauty and ugliness any more – that is a problem.”

The bulk of work for a major exhibition opening at The Royal Academy of Arts in January, David Hockney: A Bigger Picture, will be his landscape paintings, including three new groups of work made since he returned to live in Bridlington in 2005.

“The coastline and surrounding countryside around Bridlington is more charming than people realise,” he said.

“People should stand up for themselves and say ‘no’ to these things if they don’t agree with them.

“It seems that people in England have less power than at any time in their history.

“They should let the politicians know what they think and defend their area.”

That backing will be a major boost for the group, who admit they are facing a huge fight.

Steve Hey, founder of the No To The Wolds Wind Farm Group, said: “We are just normal people in the local community. We have jobs and bills to pay, but we have to fight these massive developers who have huge financial backing. It is a David v Goliath fight.

“Planning policy is so geared towards the developer.

“If all the groups fighting this do not come together, it will be even more difficult.”

Now, the group has set up a petition, with ambitious plans to attract 100,000 signatures so the issue can be debated in Parliament.

“The next step is to give focus for people, which is why we have set up a petition,” Mr Hinde said.

“I don’t think the politicians have woken up and realised the extent of the problem.

“We would love to get 100,000 signatures so we can get this issue debated in Parliament, but we need 1,500 for councils to discuss it.

“Our aim is to have the Wolds In Yorkshire designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The Lincolnshire Wolds have been designated as such, so why not Yorkshire?

“If these turbines are allowed, it will industrialise the landscape and open the way for other developments.”

After carrying out research on wind power, Mr Hey feels there is a cynical motive behind the increase in turbines.

“I am not surprised these wind farms are coming in at the rate they are,” he said.

“There is a dash for cash and companies are trying to get in before the subsidies go.

“As a group, we are not against renewables, but we just feel wind power is not the way forward.

“I was never against turbines until I had to start researching and found out how inefficient they are.

“This isn’t ‘nimbyism’, but localism at work.”

East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight has also raised concerns.

“When wind farms are erected, our countryside views are destroyed,” he said.

“The only winner is the person who leases the land and pockets the cash. For everyone else, there is a cost.

“Some local residents have their property blighted and we all have our views ruined.”

Wind farm battles have been going on in the East Riding for some years.

It took seven attempts before East Riding Council successfully defended an appeal over its decision to reject a wind farm proposal.

Pete Ashcroft, the council’s head of planning and development management, said: “The council considers each application for wind turbines carefully, which includes assessing the effects of proposals on the landscape taking into account any already permitted schemes in the vicinity.

“As a planning authority, we have refused a number of wind farm proposals in the East Riding, but in many cases, these have been subsequently allowed on appeal.”

Anyone wishing to sign the online petition to designate the Yorkshire Wolds an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty should visit www.south dalewindfarm.co.uk