Furious jockey Tony McCoy has dramatically halted plans to build a £2m ‘state of the art’ racing stable until he is guaranteed that a wind turbine won’t be erected close to where his horses would exercise.
Extensive building was due to begin at Lodge Down stables in Upper Lambourn on Feburary 1, but the 16-times champion has called off the contractor until West Berkshire Council gives its decision on a planning application for a 35-metre-high turbine on nearby Baydon Meadow.
McCoy has stressed to the council that 25 jobs and £2m of investment would be lost to the area should he pull out altogether.
His bitter protest is based on fears that the turbine’s shape and size would cause disturbance and noise, cast weird shadows on the ground, especially from sunlight flickering between the spinning blades, and that all these distractions would startle horses and cause them to bolt, and that this would put them, and their riders at serious risk.
He has also pointed out that the turbine would stand close to a street where horses were ridden at walking pace during their daily exercise, and that this would be an additional danger.
McCoy is currently renting Lodge Down stables to trainer Gary Brown, who uses the gallops involved in the turbine controversy.
McCoy and his wife Chanelle have jointly alerted West Berkshire Council to their concern, and in a letter said: “We protest strongly against, and object to, the application of the proposed planning permission for the erection of this wind turbine in Baydon Meadow.
“We purchased Lodge Down on December 6, 2006, and we were awarded planning permission in 2010 to build a state of the art racehorse training establishment, with potential for more than 25 new jobs in the area.
“A contractor has been commissioned to commence building this establishment on February 1, 2012, but has now been advised that work will not start there until we are guaranteed that a wind turbine will not be erected.”
McCoy, who was last year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year, added that the risk to his investment, and viability of his training business, was too great for him to consider going ahead at present.
He warned that horses would be “spooked” by the turbine and continued that he could not emphasise enough how absolutely critical information would be to the potential investment in excess of £2 million to expand his training facilities.
He said that it would result in 25 new jobs not being created and suggested that there was no way that Gary Brown could continue to train at Lodge Down, citing, among other factors, the safety of horses and riders.
The proposed turbine would be situated on land owned by Matt Partridge, a director of one of the country’s biggest wind turbine companies.
In September, the Newbury Weekly News reported how businessman Matt Partridge was pressing ahead with the new turbine scheme despite two previous refusals from planning officers.
Mr Partridge said this week that he had bought the land back in 2000 for the purpose of a wind turbine being erected there because he was “passionate about the environment.”
REG Windpower boasts that it is one of the country’s leading developer and operator of small to medium-sized wind farms, currently owning and operating 10 wind farms around the UK, with offices in Truro and Bath.
A decision on the Baydon Meadow application is expected early in the New Year.
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