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Thornton Moor campaigner call for strategy on wind turbines

Anti-wind-farm campaigners are calling on Bradford Council to publish a strategy to stop piecemeal planning applications for turbines, which they fear will create wind farms “through the back door”.

Thornton Moor Wind Farm Action Group claims the area could be reaching “saturation point” following a flurry of applications for individual or small groups of wind turbines in recent months.

A dozen planning applications for wind turbines have been submitted to Bradford Council in the last four months, many at moorland farms in Keighley, Bingley, Oakworth, Thornton, Steeton and Queensbury.

More are included in the latest list of applications – see foot of page.

Campaigner Anthea Orchard said Bradford Council began its own study but that had neither been completed nor been the subject of public consultation.

She said that, in the meantime, planners and councillors sitting on planning panels had been allowing developers to build turbines – without guidance on the cumulative effect it would have on the landscape.

Mrs Orchard, of Denholme Gate, said: “What we want is a strategy so that it is not a free-for-all.

“Already, there are farming areas between Denholme and Thornton where we have three turbines and another three in the pipeline. That is six turbines on the landscape, which, architects have acknowledged, could be a small wind farm. If more are allowed, it could mean a large-scale wind farm being allowed through the back door.”

She highlighted a landscape architect’s concerns in a report as part of an application for two 30-metre turbines at Well Heads Farm, Thornton. The report reads: “While the landscape here can be judged to be capable of absorbing the impact of some small wind turbines, it is difficult to be precise about how many small wind turbines constitute any sort of saturation point.”

She said Calderdale and neighbouring local authorities in South Pennine areas had employed consultants to carry out their own studies, which had formed a Landscape Capacity Study. That identifies where and how many wind turbines may be built, provided planning permission is granted, as well as the cumulative effects of individual turbines.

The study also looked at the impact of wind farms across the borders of neighbouring local authorities on the whole of the landscape. It has been used to inform the Local Develop-ment Framework, which informs each Council’s planning policies.

Mrs Orchard said: “If you let too many of these developments go ahead, the area will metamorphose into a wind farm.”

Councillor Val Slater, Bradford Council’s executive member for planning, said: “We are carrying out a number of studies with reference to the Local Development Framework and environmental sustainability, including our views on renewable energies, and this will form part of the core strategy which is already under way and is expected to be brought to Council next year.”