“Museum piece” wind turbines at Chelker Reservoir, Addingham, produce just enough electricity to power 23 hairdryers a day, say villagers.
Peter Rigby, chairman of Parishioners Against Chelker Turbines (PACT) told Craven District Council’s planning committee that over a seven- month period the two turbines produced just 1400kw of electricity.
He said the electricity produced amounted to nothing and urged the council to take action under the original planning consent to have the outdated turbines removed. He also claimed figures being produced by owners Yorkshire Water did not match the views of residents who witnessed the turbines turning for less than an hour a day.
And he added that Yorkshire Water had not claimed its Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) from Ofgem because the amount of electricity was so low, and not because of an “administrative error” as claimed by Yorkshire Water.
But the water company told the council that the turbines were producing electricity and as such were operational. And as long as they were operational, the council could not enforce one of the original conditions that the turbines would have to be removed no more than six months after they stopped working.
Councillors decided against taking no further action and asked for an investigation into what constituted “operational”. The committee was warned against a full- blown investigation because of limited time and resources in the enforcement department.
Committee chairman Coun Richard Welch (Cons) said he thought it would be difficult to prove the turbines were not operating, however little electricity they were generating. “From a layman’s point of view, if it lights just one lightbulb, it is still working,” he said.
And Coun Ady Green (Cons) added the council would look foolish if it challenged the water company. “It is still operational if it’s producing enough energy for one or 50,000 hairdryers. I think we would be foolish to spend any more money bickering with Yorkshire Water over this,” he said.
But Coun Robert Heseltine (Ind) said he had little time for Yorkshire Water and accused the company of not being entirely truthful with the council.
He said he doubted the operational figures produced by the company and asked for an independent investigation.
And Coun Alan Sutcliffe (Cons) said anyone could see that the turbines were little more than “museum pieces”. “We should spend a little bit of money finding out how much energy they are producing,” he said.
The committee had been due to discuss possible enforcement action at its meeting last month, but the report was withdrawn following evidence that Yorkshire Water had not claimed its ROCs since June 2011. ROCs are used to prove the generation of renewable energy and it had been suggested that the company’s failure to apply proved that the turbines were not working. However, the company responded that it had not claimed the ROCs because of an “administrative error” which had since been rectified.
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