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Yorkshire Wolds move to be area of outstanding natural beauty amid wind farm fears

A bid is being made for powers to protect East Yorkshire from being overrun by towering wind farms.

Campaigners have welcomed a move by East Riding Council to explore the possibility of making the Wolds an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

Now, East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight is meeting Richard Benyon, Minister for the Natural Environment, to hammer home the need for the designation.

Wind farm and oil exploration companies are targeting the Wolds because they are not protected as an area of outstanding natural beauty, it is claimed.

The stunning beauty of the Wolds has been highlighted internationally by an exhibition of David Hockney’s paintings of the area at the Royal Academy of Art in London.

Steve Hey, chairman of the No To Wolds Wind Farm group, said: “It is brilliant news the council is exploring the possibility of Natural England giving this protection.

“It is something which has been needed for a long time because wind farm companies appear to be treating the Wolds as a soft touch for their developments.

“The area of outstanding natural beauty status is something that needs taking forward quickly and we believe Natural England already has legal powers to protect a landscape under such threat.”

The Lincolnshire Wolds have had the AONB status for years and conservation organisations say the East Yorkshire Wolds should be given the same protection.

But there have been delays in making new areas of outstanding natural beauty because Natural England has been reviewing its landscape and biodiversity strategy for seven years.

Mr Hey said: “It is absolutely disgusting Natural England has failed our stunning and precious Wolds landscape throughout this period.

“With the council, MPs and MEPs onboard, we have a major democratic force behind our campaign and Natural England must take action now.”

East Riding Council has received a positive response from Scarborough District Council and Ryedale District Council, which both cover parts of the Wolds.

Councillor Symon Fraser, portfolio holder for the environment, said pressure had grown for the Wolds to receive AONB status following a number of wind farm proposals for the area.

He said: “The beauty of the area is well recognised locally and people are rightly proud of the superb landscapes of the Wolds.

“But the council needs to be absolutely sure of its support before we even consider progressing this issue and key to that would be the commitment and support of Natural England.”

Mr Knight said he was concerned about the process of making an AONB. He said: “I will be urging the minister to speed up the process because the beautiful Wolds could be desecrated by wind farms before they receive the protection status.”