Hugely controversial wind turbine plans are set to unleash a storm of protest in Leyland.
Neighbours are ‘horrified’ over proposals by United Utilities to build a 79-metre high wind turbine in fields at the back of their homes, complaining it will be a blot on the landscape and cause unwanted noise nuisance.
If approved, this will be the first substantial turbine Leyland residents have seen on their doorsteps, being almost FOUR times the height of the famous Angel of the North landmark in Newcastle.
The 500 kilowatt generator is set to be placed in the United Utilities Wastewater Treatment Works site off Emnie Lane, near Leyland Lane, and people living in houses close by are outraged by the proposals.
Janet Grindrod, who lives in Little Firs Fold off Leyland Lane, said: “I’m horrified. It’s bad enough that the water treatment site is so exposed and unsightly.
“We bought our house around a year ago and the facility was hidden with hedgerows then, but they have been taken down and now plans have been put forward for a wind turbine.
“We liked the area because it is semi-rural and we wanted the peace and quiet. We never expected to have something like this on our doorstep.”
Stephen Knowles, also of Little Firs Fold and whose garden backs on to the open fields, added: “Wind turbines are so much a blot on the landscape and they make quite a lot of noise.
“If this is something which will only benefit United Utilities then I am categorically against it.
“I go for the occasional walk through the fields and this would put me off doing that, but my main concern is that if this isn’t in the best interest of the community, I am really opposed to it.”
At 79 metres tall to the tip of the blades, the turbine will be exactly half the height of Blackpool Tower, and will be the largest landmark in Leyland.
Objections were raised back in 2010 when plans were passed for a farmer to build a turbine to power his farm off Dunkirk Lane, but that was only 25 metres tall.
Coun Michael Green, the county councillor for the area and the cabinet member for economic development, environment and planning at Lancashire County Council, believes there are bound to be further objections regarding the most recent plan.
He said: “Wind turbines do tend to be controversial and there will be concerns over the visual impact, and the possibility of it creating a ‘shadow flicker’.
“It’s important to look at the impact a wind turbine has on the surrounding area, especially in terms of height and distance from houses, and to see if the benefits can be justified against the disadvantages to the local area.”
He added: “Inevitably I think there will be more and more applications for renewable energy put forward, but traditionally, South Ribble has not been seen to be the right place for wind turbines, because of the low wind levels.
“But each application needs to be judged on its own merits at the time. I’m keen to hear people’s views about this.”
At this stage, United Utilities has only put forward a ‘screening opinion for a wind turbine application’ to find out if an environmental impact assessment will be needed, before a full plan is submitted to South Ribble Council.
Although not indicated in the documents, the company also insists this will be a temporary turbine to determine whether a more permanent one will be worth building.
Chris Matthews, from United Utilities, said: “This is a planning application to install a medium sized test turbine which would gather data such as wind speed.
“From this information a more detailed study can be carried out with a view to understand whether the site is appropriate for a permanent structure.
“Energy costs to process wastewater is by far one of our biggest outlays and if we can manage to reduce this, it will help, in part, to keep water bills for customers in Leyland at just over £1 per day.
“We believe this strategy is good for customers’ pockets.
“Local community engagement is important to us.
“Our customers’ feedback plays an important part of our future plans.
“We will be openly consulting and asking for feedback when the time is right.”
Early proposal documents state: “United Utilities is considering the installation of a single wind turbine on land at its Wastewater Treatment Works.
“An initial feasibility study has identified the Leyland site as having the potential to accommodate a single wind turbine with a tip height of up to 79 metres that would generate electricity to be used on site, with any excess exported to the local grid network.”
It adds the turbine would be operational for a period of 25 years, and that noise, shadow flicker and visual amenity are not considered to be significant problems.