Tony McCoy, the champion jockey, has mothballed plans for a £2 million racing stable because he fears the horses will stampede in terror at the sound whirling blades from a wind farm which could be built nearby.
Builders were due to start on February 1, but McCoy, who won BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2010, has shelved the project until West Berkshire Council decides on the planning application for a 35ft-high wind turbine.
He says if he’s forced to scrap the “state of the art” stables it will cost 25 jobs and a £2 million investment which would have helped the local economy.
He fears riders could be injured or even killed if they are thrown from highly-strung racehorses which are spooked and bolt in terror because of the turbine’s spinning blades near Lodge Down Stables at Upper Lambourn.
The “windmill” is planned in Baydon Meadow, close to a lane where the horses are taken for their daily workout.
It’s due to be built on land owned by Matt Partridge, a director of one of Britain’s biggest wind turbine companies.
McCoy is currently renting out Lodge Down Stables to trainer Gary Brown, who exercises valuable racehorses on gallops next to the turbine site.
In a letter to West Berkshire Council, McCoy and his wife Chanelle say they purchased the stables in 2006 and won planning permission in 2010 to build the new training complex.
They wrote: “A contractor has been commissioned to commence building on February 1, 2012, but has been advised that work will not start until we are guaranteed that the wind turbine will not be erected.”
Mr Partridge has drawn up new plans for the turbine after the council rejected two earlier applications, in 2003 and 2007, when he proposed that it would tower 81 metres high – described by local Tory councillor Anthony Stansfeld as a “crime against nature”.
Mr Partridge says his new, shorter, turbine will be half the height of a mast a few miles away at Sparsholt Firs and less than one-quarter the height of the TV mast at Membury services on the M4 near Lambourn.
The turbine would generate around 195,000 units of electricity each year, enough to meet the power needs of nearly 60 homes, says Mr Partridge, of REG Windpower which runs ten wind farms round Britain, with offices in Truro and Bath.
He added: “The UK is the windiest country in Europe so placing wind turbines in windy areas like Baydon Meadow helps the UK generate more of its electricity using its own resources, reducing imports of expensive foreign fossil fuels.
“That’s before considering the significant environmental benefits – wind turbines release no greenhouse gases, no air pollutants and can be removed within days at the end of their 25 year lives, leaving the site as it was before.”
Lambourn Sustainability Forum spokesman Barry Flisher said “Baydon Meadow is an ideal place to put a small-scale wind turbine.
“It has a good wind resource while the wind turbine would have only a small, local impact since the area is very sparsely populated with woodland blocking many views towards it and the traffic noise from the M4 will completely overwhelm any noise from the wind turbine.”
The council is expected to decide on the turbine application early in the New Year.
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