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‘Wind of change should blow benefits our way’  

Credit:  Rochdale Observer, menmedia.co.uk 16 November 2011 ~~

Rochdale should directly benefit from the planned expansion of Scout Moor windfarm. That was the view of councillors after they were shown outline plans to double the size of the 26-turbine farm on the moors above Norden.

Members of Rochdale Township were divided on the expansion, but admitted planning permission is likely to be granted.

Coun Andrew Neilson added: “What people stop here for is our countryside.

“If we are going to give up our views and our hills I would like something back for the people of Rochdale.”

Coun Dale Mulgrew said: “The cost of energy is a major concern across the UK.

“I think the people in Rochdale will see you are producing all this energy then feeding it into the national grid.

“Is there not any way that the power being generated locally can be sent locally in terms of helping to try and keep prices down?”

Jon England, development director of windfarm owners Peel Energy, said if expanded Scout Moor would generate £1m in business rates each year which would be given to Rochdale and Rossendale councils.

Plans to introduce cooperatives to own part of the wind farm, improve peat on the moor and a new community benefit fund were also announced.

But he said it would be hard to specifically supply Rochdale.

Mr England added: “It would be difficult. To enter the energy supply market you have to be constant and wind farms do not generate power constantly.

“If we do not follow this policy of renewable energy then prices will go up more. It is a matter of simple world economics.”

But some councillors attacked the plans.

Coun Ian Duckworth said: “It’s all about mega-bucks not mega-watts. During the winter they did not move for a week.

“You need to have power stations on standby because of the unreliability of the wind.

“They are just a blot on the landscape.”

But Coun David Clayton said: “We would not be doing this if they did not work.

“Personally speaking I would have them all over the place.

“Some people do see them as a blot on the landscape but I know people do quite like the look of them.”

Coun Anne Metcalfe fought a campaign to try and stop the original wind farm being built.

She said: “I think it is devastating. The whole of the landscape will be destroyed again.

“But having fought last time I am smart enough to realise it is going to get through.

“But I do appreciate the approach which is being taken this time and I hope the people of Rochdale will be able to benefit from this.”

But a number of councillors asked for Rochdale to see any direct benefit from the proposed wind farm.

The expansion is likely to cost around £70m.

The first phase of consultation will now begin with a number of public events planned to take place at Spotland, Rochdale Exchange and in Heywood before Christmas.

A second and third round of consultation will then take place throughout 2012 with a planning application submitted next autumn.

A decision could then be made 12 months later.

And if approved work will begin in 2014 with the first turbines plugged into the National Grid from 2015.

Source:  Rochdale Observer, menmedia.co.uk 16 November 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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