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Public inquiry in six-year row over east Leeds wind farm

A six-year battle over controversial plans for a wind-farm to the east of Leeds has resumed with a public inquiry at Leeds Civic Hall.

Banks Renewables, part of the Banks mining and energy group, wants to build a wind farm at Hooks Moor Farm, next to the A1-M1, near Micklefield.

Local residents campaigned against the plan and Leeds City Council refused planning permission.

Banks appealed and lost, but the appeal decision was then overturned in the High Court.

Government Inspector Philip Major is now leading the inquiry on behalf of the Government’s Environment and Communities Departments.

The application is for five wind turbines on agricultural land, which used to be common land and which is in the protected green belt. The turbines would be 260 feet high, with the top of the blades reaching 390 feet.

Banks is represented by Marcus Trinick QC of law firm Eversheds. In his opening remarks, Mr Trinick said that Natural England and English Heritage had no objection to the plan, though there are objections from the Ramblers’ Association and the Open Spaces’ Society.

He said the landowner and tenant have no objections.

Giving evidence for the company, Stewart Provan said the wind farms would be of “minimal detriment” to the land, and said that temporary alternatives to a right of way across the land would be provided during the construction, which would be expected to take from 10 to 18 months.

Local residents turned out to object to the proposal and to give evidence.

Among them was former county councillor Roy Wilson.

He emphasised the importance of retaining green belt protected land in largely-industrial West Yorkshire.

He said: “The West Riding green belt has been in place for over 50 years and, perhaps more than, most I am conscious of the role it continues to play as the green lungs of a large urban population living in West Yorkshire.”