Plans to build a £12 million wind farm on the “wild and wonderful” moorland that inspired Wuthering Heights have enraged conservationists and locals.
Thornton Moor at Howarth was a source of inspiration to all three Bronte sisters who enjoyed its breath-taking views during their frequent walks from the Parsonage.
Now the Brontë Society and local villagers have been devastated by moves to build four 328ft high wind turbines on the beauty spot – flanking both sides of the Brontë Way tourist trail.
Bradford councillors are due to vote on an application to install a data-gathering mast next week and objectors fear the full £12m scheme could go to planning by September and be built within 12 months.
Thornton Moor is less than five miles from Howarth and the Brontë Parsonage Museum where the Brontës spent most of their lives and part of landscape steeped in literary history.
Sally McDonald, chairman of the Brontë Society board of trustees, said: “These moors should continue undisturbed for generations to come and for the swathes of visitors from the UK and overseas drawn to Haworth and Yorkshire by their interest in the lives and works of the Brontës.
“We are concerned it is more skyline pollution in an area of international historical interest.
“Howarth is regarded as a heritage at risk area in its own right. The Brontës were passionate about the landscape and the moorland hugely influenced the writing of all three sisters.
“Wuthering Heights was set in and around that area. You cannot see the moor from the parsonage window but it would be a view they knew from their walks.
“They thought nothing about scampering out for a seven or eight mile on the moor.
“Four one hundred meter tall turbines will have a huge visual impact. Preserving the nature of the moor is very important.
“The heather is beautiful, and the wild flowers are lovely to see. It would be awful if they were lost. There is also birdlife such as lapwings.
“The moorland is undulating, providing a wonderful open vista of unbroken landscape which sweeps up and down in beautiful banks and falls.
“It is wild and wonderful place. It is a very special part of the Yorkshire landscape which draws a huge number of visitors to Yorkshire every year including visitors who want to see what is represented in the writings of the Brontës – and I don’t think that includes wind masts.”
Campaigners say the wind farm will be less than 700 yards from the nearest homes in the tiny rural settlement of Denholme Gate, where 223 people, nearly all the residents, have signed a protest petition.
Anthea Orchard, who chairs the Thornton Moor Wind farm Action Group, said: “It is devastating for everybody and everything.
“The damage to the landscape is going to be irreparable. Our whole way of life is going to suffer and we will fight it to the death.
“It is behind a smoke screen of renewable energy. We are also concerned about the impact on wild life because of how close it is to the South Pennines Site of Special Scientific Interest.”
Mrs Orchard, 34, a fire service 999 calls handler and mother of two, added: “The Brontë Way which links the Bronte landmarks actually goes through the middle of the proposed wind farm.
“So you would have two turbines on the left and two on the right. Everyone affected is very angry and scared.
“They are going to be seen for miles because we are so high above sea level here.”
Phil Dyke, development director at green energy firm Banks Renewables, said: “The visual impact of a test mast at Thornton Moor would be very slight as it would be a slender structure.
“Details will also have to be agreed with Natural England to minimise ecological impacts.
“Developing sustainable, low-carbon energy is vital to all our futures, both within Yorkshire and across the UK, and Bradford currently has no large scale renewable energy project.
“Last week’s panic buying of petrol may be a foretaste of a world that is unable to transfer to more sustainable energy sources.”
The proposed scheme at Thornton Moor would comprise four turbines with a maximum height of 100m, he added.
It would have an installed capacity of up to 8MW, which is enough to meet the annual electricity consumption requirements of up to 4,500 homes.
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