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Villagers seek legal redress as council blows cold over turbines  

Credit:  Yorkshire Post, www.yorkshirepost.co.uk 19 January 2012 ~~

Villagers in West Yorkshire are considering legal action to prevent wind turbines being built on land close to homes.

Residents in Shelley near Huddersfield have now formed an action group after several planning applications were submitted for turbines on green belt land.

The members of Shelley Action Group hope that legal action could put the brake on the applications.

A local barrister has written to Kirklees Council expressing concerns about the safety of the structures, particularly during very strong winds – as turbines in several places around Huddersfield were damaged during recent storms.

There are also concerns about how the blades shed ice – and where it could fall– during wintry conditions.

The proximity of proposed wind turbines to homes in Shelley has added to the fears.

A spokesman for SAG claimed that Kirklees Council appeared to be “dismissive” in its approach to the safety of the structures.

“Proposed near footpaths and homes, Shelley’s landscape could soon be scattered with five windmills, two of which have already been approved,” said the group spokesman.

One of the turbines, if approved, could be within 60 metres of the boundary of a property in Shelley, it is claimed.

Shelley Action Group chairman Michael Rock said: “Naturally, letters of objection expressing safety concerns have been submitted to Kirklees, but residents have been shocked by some of the responses from the planning case officers.”

He said that council officers had admitted in written correspondence that “the integrity of wind turbines including building quality and the method of installation is not a material planning consideration.”

A council officer has told Shelley objectors that “with regard to risk assessment relating to the possibility of any turbine failure, I would advise you that this is not a process undertaken by the council during its assessment of such applications”.

Mr Rock added: “What do we have to do to protect our residents?

“Kirklees may be applying the law to planning applications, but surely common sense has to prevail when other turbines are so catastrophically failing.

“We do not want the first fatality to be in our village.”

He said that when a turbine in Scotland burst into flames and disintegrated recently, a site spokesman said that there had been no injuries as the area was routinely closed down and the workers moved out when the wind speed exceeded 55mph.

“Recent winds in this district reached 70mph and do so on a regular basis.”

Shelley residents have been asking SAG members about safety and evacuation advice in the event of high winds.

One local asked: “Where do the residents of Shelley evacuate to in these circumstances and who tells them to go?

The questioner went on: “The proposed turbines are not on some remote moor or hillside.

“They would be slap bang in the middle of a community, clearly visible and audible to hundreds of residents.”

A bill is currently going through Parliament recommending a minimum distance of 1km between turbines and residential properties.

The National Association of Local Councils is also recommending a minimum distance of 700m.

“This however, may be all too late for Shelley, which is a former holder of the Yorkshire village of the year award,” said a SAG spokesman.

“Once these turbines are approved and built, they do not come down because of retrospective laws. It could be the wind that destroys them, but that prospect is too frightening to consider,” said Mr Rock.

A spokesman for Kirklees Council said it would not be commenting “in advance of legal action”.

Source:  Yorkshire Post, www.yorkshirepost.co.uk 19 January 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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