Communities across Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire are being “bullied” by wind farm developers who want to “desecrate” the region’s famous landscapes, Tory MPs have warned amid mounting concern over plans for a huge new development in the Dales.
Conservative backbenchers berated the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary Ed Davey in the Commons yesterday over the Government’s support for the onshore wind industry, as campaigners in North Yorkshire brace themselves for a crunch decision next month over a proposed 28-turbine wind farm.
Harrogate Borough Council is expected to meet in April to decide whether to approve two separate planning applications for wind turbines on separate sites west of the town.
The proposals, from Kelda Group, which owns Yorkshire Water, and Tapar Ltd – which already owns seven large turbines in the area – have met vehement opposition from local campaign group Save the Dales.
Speaking in the Commons, Harrogate MP Andrew Jones called for an immediate moratorium on onshore wind farms around the country, and demanded the Government seek more effective forms of renewable energy.
“There are proposals to create what will be the largest onshore wind farm in the country on the edge of my constituency,” he said.
“I am a huge supporter of renewable energy, but I have major reservations about onshore wind, as I believe it is very expensive and unreliable.
“I am therefore not at all supportive of the proposals.”
Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith went further, accusing developers of “bullying” local communities and insisting wind farms are simply not welcome in the county.
“Communities throughout North Yorkshire are being bullied by wind companies, and money is being wasted,” the Mr Smith said.
“The Liberal Democrat obsession with wind is not what North Yorkshire wants.”
Northern Lincolnshire has also seen a huge number of onshore wind farm applications over recent years, and Gainsborough MP Edward Leigh called on Mr Davey to intervene personally and prevent the “desecration” of the Wolds landscape.
“Will my good friend visit me in North Lincolnshire so that we can stand together on the edge of the Wolds, an area of outstanding natural beauty, and look at the amazing Lincolnshire clay and the 40-mile view?” he asked of the Lib Dem Cabinet Minister.
“Will he then come back in 10 years’ time to see that great view desecrated by vast arrays of windmills 100 metres high, all in the name of some controversial science?
“Can we not place these windmills somewhere where they do not desecrate our lives?”
Mr Davey told the MPs he could not intervene in individual applications, but firmly rejected Mr Jones’s claim that “we have enough onshore wind farms already”.
The Energy Secretary said: “Onshore wind is one of the cheapest – if not the cheapest – of the large-scale renewable technologies.
“It has huge benefits.”
The coalition is committed to onshore wind as part of its pledge to be the ‘greenest Government ever”.
Ministers have promised to do more to listen to local concerns over wind farms in the future, however, and last year issued a call for evidence for interested parties to come forward with suggestions as to how communities can share the benefits of having a wind farm built nearby.
Mr Davey said the Government will publish its response later this year.
It may include new proposals for communities to be given a greater say over proposed developments in their areas, as well as financial incentives if they agree to host a wind farm locally.
“We take community concerns seriously, not just in Lincolnshire but across the country,” Mr Davey said.
“That is why we published the call for evidence on community benefits in September.
“We will report to the House on that in the summer.”
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