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Wind farm bullies ‘a threat to the Dales’

Fears have been raised that the famous landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales are at risk of being swallowed up by a series of multi-million pound wind farm developments.

Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith said too many rural communities were being bullied by company giants after it emerged 36 massive wind turbines were being planned for countryside on the outskirts of Harrogate.

Kelda Water Services has submitted two reports detailing the proposals to Harrogate Council, which would see 17 410ft turbines built near Scargill Reservoir, as well as the erection of seven 328ft windmills near an existing eight-turbine wind farm at Knabbs Ridge. A report has also been submitted by Tapar (PF) Ltd outlining plans for an additional four 377ft turbines near the Knabbs Ridge site.

The details of the new turbines are the latest to emerge after the Yorkshire Post revealed in December that a major renewable energy development had been earmarked for land near Bolton Abbey that had inspired the artist JMW Turner.

The proposals, which have also been put forward by Kelda Water Services, are due to be debated by Craven District Council on February 13.

It comes after the company submitted a fresh planning application for two 246ft turbines on land at its Chelker reservoir site, at Addingham, near Ilkley, after ditching previous plans to put up three in the face of opposition.

Mr Smith, who is among a group of Tory MPs currently piling pressure on the government to slash subsidies for onshore wind farms, said: “While renewable energy is really important for Britain’s future, we are seeing regular examples of bullying of local communities by companies and we have to get real about the aesthetic and environmental considerations in our area, which is one of the most beautiful areas in our country.

“It’s vitally important that communities are properly consulted and that a better balance is made between energy and the environment in planning considerations.”

Martyn Basierak, from Kelda Water Services, said the proposed scheme near Harrogate would help ensure Government sustainable energy targets were met, as well as slash energy costs.

He said: “We have not at this stage submitted a planning application but are exploring the options and considering all the environmental aspects of the proposals with Harrogate Council. We intend to submit a full application within a number of months and prior to that, will be undertaking an extensive consultation programme with local people between February and May.”

Coun Richard Cooper, Harrogate Council’s cabinet member for planning, transport and economic development, who was opposed to the Knabbs Ridge development, said he feared the plans would have a devastating impact.

He said: “I haven’t yet seen the proposal for the new turbines however from what I’ve been told they do seem to be extensive and it’s difficult to see how they could not have a significant impact on the environment.”

Yorkshire MEP Godfrey Bloom has also hit out at wind farm developments impinging on rural landscapes, labelling the turbines “hopelessly inefficient and expensive”.