It is a landscape that inspired the artist JMW Turner, but there are fears such a view may never be captured again if plans for wind turbines near Bolton Abbey are backed.
Fears have been raised that the two proposed turbines would be of such a scale that they would dominate vistas enjoyed by visitors over the centuries and spoil the natural beauty of the Yorkshire Dales.
Officials at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are urging members to make clear their objections to the application arguing the landscape will not “absorb significant intrusions”.
“It is considered that the proposed turbines are of such a scale that they will dominate and tame the expanse of the landscape and as such, the eye will be drawn to them as an incongruous and dominating feature thereby ruining the enjoyment of the natural beauty of this upland landscape,” a report to members says.
Kelda Water Services has submitted a fresh planning application for two 75-metre (246ft) turbines on land at its Chelker reservoir site, at Addingham, near Ilkley, after ditching previous plans to put up three in the face of significant opposition. The site is about three-quarters of a mile from the edge of the national park and Bolton Abbey is within one and a half miles of the site.
The company, sister organisation to Yorkshire Water, has said it has listened to concerns, moved the proposed location of the turbines and reduced their height by five metres (16ft) to address complaints. But protesters have previously vowed to fight on against any new application on the site, where Kelda wants to replace four existing 45-metre (147ft) turbines which were installed in 1991. The report says Bolton Abbey’s remains have been immortalised by Turner and in verse by William Wordsworth.
“The setting and views over the abbey will be fundamentally altered from the largely unaltered view that is captured in the paintings of JMW Turner. One of Turner’s paintings includes the abbey in the middle ground with the hill side which includes the application site in the background. There are also proposals to create the Turner trail, a heritage trail which would draw visitors to the viewpoints created by Turner’s paintings, including views over the Abbey Ruins which would be significantly altered by the backdrop of the wind turbines,” the report says.
Although there are four turbines in place, these are smaller and not as dominant, the report says. Members of the park authority have been asked for their views on the application by Craven District Council, ahead of a decision being made. Park officers are recommending members object to the proposals when they meet on Tuesday.
The report concludes: “The impact of the proposal on the landscape of the southern part of Wharfedale, the setting of the National Park and views into and out of the National Park would be significantly harmful. The landscape setting of Bolton Abbey and St Mary’s Church is of high importance to the historic and cultural significance of the historic assets. The proposals would have a damaging impact on the setting of the Priory ruins and the church.”
Last month, Martyn Basierak of Kelda Water Services, said: “Following a series of exhibitions and consultations, we’ve listened to local residents and other stakeholders, taken account of their feedback and developed a revised plan which we believe goes a long way to addressing concerns. Our proposed submission will turn the currently defunct wind turbines into much more productive and efficient ones which will deliver a plentiful and green supply of energy, as well as reducing carbon emissions.”
The battle over the site has been raging for several years. An initial planning application for two 127-metre (416ft) turbines was rejected by Craven District Council, and revised plans for three 80-metre (262ft) ones were withdrawn in the face of protests. The existing four turbines are no longer working. After complaints about previous plans, one of the proposed turbines has been moved 65 metres to the south-east, further away from the road.