Protesters against an application for a wind turbine have been joined in their fight by a national tourist organisation.
VisitEngland has written to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council opposing plans to build a 236ft (72metre), three-blade 500KW wind turbine, with associated infrastructure, at Red Earth Farm, Macclesfield Road, Rudyard, for TemporisWind.
The national tourism agency for England joins 741 objectors to the scheme, including members of the public, Leekfrith and Heaton parish councils, and the Peak District National Park Authority.
In the letter Phil Evans, head of strategy for VisitEngland, admits that “we do not routinely lobby on issues such as local planning applications, but we will relate our views on planning issues if we feel it is of national interest”.
Figures, based on theUnited Kingdom Tourism Survey and the International Passenger Survey, indicate that tourism in Staffordshire accounts formore than 1.3million visits, worth around £200 million a year.
Mr Evans says that VisitEngland and VisitBritain use imagery from the StaffordshireMoorlands to promote the country and the natural landscape of the area is one of the “major motivators” for visits.
He said: “While in principle we support the drive for renewable energy, we acknowledge that in many cases applications for wind turbines or wind farms will be contentious.
“Our general strategy position is that for land-based proposals, wind turbines impact on the landscape.
We believe that the landscape of the Staffordshire Moorlands is an inappropriate location for wind turbines and will have an adverse impact on the landscape value of this area.
“We strongly recommend that the needs of the tourism sector and its economic and employment value to the local area are taken fully into account and balanced against the renewable energy imperative faced by this country.” Planning officers have recommended the application be refused when it goes in front of the district council’s planning committee tomorrow.
A spokesman for Temporis Wind said the application had been altered to meed local objections. He added: “A reduction in tip height and the moving of the proposed location further down the hill means that the turbine will protrude more than 100ft (31m) less into the skyline.
“Additional landscape, noise, bat and ornithology studies have also been completed, involving consultation with the Peak District National Park, Natural England, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council themselves, which provide evidence that addresses all concerns raised with the previous application and highlighting that the revised submission has no impact on bats, birds and other interests in the area.” Mark Gater, of Transition Leek, support wind turbines. The group carried out a survey at Leek Show in 2009 and asked 138 locals and visitors for their attitudes towards wind turbines and 108 were in support.
He said: “In spite of concerns of the visual impact, wind turbines have smaller environmental impact than alternatives.
“The hills around Leek provide an opportunity to start to secure our energy future, we need to take it.”
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