December 15, 2011

Campaigners urge councillors to see “the bigger picture”

Yorkshire Post, 15 December 2011

Campaigners are fighting plans for a wind farm they say would be a “blot” on the landscape which inspired David Hockney.

Gaoh Energy wants to install a 200ft wind monitoring mast on land off Scarborough Road, Nafferton for up to two years, with a view to later installing four large turbines standing 410ft tall.

The site is in open countryside and in the “Wolds Area of Special Landscape Protection”.

The No To Wolds Wind Farm Group, which is campaigning to make the area a protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is urging councillors to reject an “invading menace.” A decision is due to be made at a meeting at East Riding Council tomorrow.

Bruce Temple, of Skeetings Farm, who lives under a mile from the proposed development, will be speaking. He said: “We lie just off the bypass and we have the most beautiful view up the Wolds and this is just right across the top of it. These are not the small ones on the farms but the big ones like those at Lissett. These would be seen as far as Lincolnshire because the Wolds rise up – it would be like putting them on a pedestal and the ones at Lissett can be seen from Fridaythorpe to Withernsea.”

Campaigners say the proposals run counter to plans by tourism boards to encourage visitors to the area on the back of Hockney’s A Bigger Picture exhibition, which opens at the Royal Academy in London on January 21, which includes many large-scale paintings inspired by the undulating Wolds countryside. Driffield Town Council is also objecting.

David Hinde, from the group, said: “It is not the “bigger picture” for this beautiful Yorkshire Wolds landscape as it faces an urgent and immediate threat from swamping by wind turbines of all sizes, alien structures in this open landscape that will destroy its character and the reasons for tourists to visit this area. Very many applications for wind turbines and wind farms have been received by East Riding Council. They urgently need to uphold their protection policies for the Wolds.”

However officers are backing the application, which is just for the mast, saying while there will be “some level of impact…due to the slim line and temporary nature of the proposals distant views would be barely affected and would only be for a relatively short time period.”

Since last April when feed-in tariffs – payments to people for the energy they produce – were introduced, the council has approved around 50 small-scale turbines.

Mr Hinde said: “We have been concentrating on objecting to turbines over 40m and four have been rejected recently – at Middleton on the Wolds, Burnby, Burton Fleming Grange and Watton. The industry considers them medium-sized, but in Wolds terms they are massive 200ft structures. We have been told by East Riding Council in their assessment that most of the larger turbines are producing between six and seven times the farms’ energy needs – often it is all about getting money from feed-in tariffs and the dash for cash.”

Supporters of renewables, however, argue that onshore wind is now a “mature clean energy generating technology” and they expect wind to continue to be the world’s fastest growing renewable energy source as it becomes less expensive to install, against a backdrop of energy security threats and the “urgent” need to cut carbon emissions.

Adam Bell, of RenewableUK, which represents the wind industry, said opposition generally wasn’t as widespread as suggested: “Across the country the majority of the population is in favour of the expansion of wind and even at a local level it seems to it seems to be about a vociferous minority.”

Mr Bell said they understood the need to “engage” with residents and most of their members were signed up to a protocol which gives communities £1,000 per megawatt of energy installed. He pointed out that East Riding has spent £400,000 on unsuccessful appeals against wind farms since 2000.

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