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Rail watchdog backs wind turbines protest  

Credit:  Hull Daily Mail, www.thisishullandeastriding.co.uk 27 January 2012 ~~

Residents in an East Riding village who fear plans for two turbines could compromise rail safety have been backed by a rail watchdog.

The 24m turbines would be installed just 50m away from the rail track at Bempton, near Bridlington.

Earlier this month, the blades of three turbines at Scapegoat Hill in Huddersfield flew off during high winds, leaving the surrounding area strewn with debris.

David Hinde, of Bempton Residents Against Turbines, wrote to the Office Of Rail Regulation (ORR), which has now promised to contact the local authority.

Alan Mclean, who lives very close to where the turbines would be located, has welcomed the intervention of the ORR.

He said: “The planning system is complex and often weighted against objectors, so anything that helps scrutinise the application more has to be a good thing.

“These turbines are very close to the railway track, so there are definite safety concerns.

“There remains strong public opposition against this.

HM Principal Inspector of Railways, Anna O’Connor, believes there is cause for concern.

She said: “Initially, Network Rail’s only concerns with this planning application related to access routes employed during construction and details of lighting arrangements.

“It had no formal objection. Like ORR, Network Rail’s primary consideration when considering these proposals has been to ensure that any turbine is positioned further away from the railway than its height.

“However, in light of the occurrence at Scapegoat Hill, Network Rail’s Town Planning liaison section is writing again to East Riding Council to express its worries about any similar catastrophic failure.

“I have made specific technical inquiries to Myriad CEG, but these have been referred to the manufacturer for a response.

“Once I have received those details and am able to make a proper evaluation of the risk.”

Mr Hinde believes the same thing could happen in Bempton.

He said: “Although the two turbines are produced by a different manufacturer, the blades are almost twice the size. This would mean the potential for debris to cover a wider area.”

Yorkshire MEP Godfrey Bloom has echoed the concerns and has written to the ORR.

Meanwhile, there has also been concerns about a second turbine application in the village, which residents believe will harm bird life.

The 150ft turbine is just half a mile from the RSPB centre at Bempton.

The residents’ group has written to the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is helping fund the centre, to object, claiming the RSPB has lost sight of its conservation role by not joining the fight against the turbine at Norway Farm.

Mr Hinde said: “Bird-lovers will be amazed to find RSPB conservation officers saying they are intending not to object to a 150ft turbine.

“There are 100,000 migratory birds passing in the line of the turbine proposed on their way to Buckton and Bridlington Bay, including whooper swans and the rare pink-footed geese, as they shortcut across this part of the headland.”

However, site manager at Bempton Ian Kendall said there was no evidence that turbines impacted on birds – be they seabirds or farm birds.

He said: “As a scientific organisation which we largely are, we can only state facts. The facts are that it is not going to affect the seabird colony at all because they don’t feed on the fields, they feed on the sea.

“Pink-footed geese pass down the coast and they can quite easily see turbines.”

A meeting was held in the village last week about the proposals, which attracted more than 100 people, all against both schemes.

Source:  Hull Daily Mail, www.thisishullandeastriding.co.uk 27 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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