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Fish farm owner insists turbine work has hit his water supply

A fish farm owner from Gilcrux has been cast a lifeline by the energy firm which he claimed was putting his livelihood at risk.

Gilbert Pyke, 49, who runs Gilcrux Springs Trout Farm claimed that his water supplies had been disrupted since Renewable Energy Systems erected its wind farm at nearby Tallentire Hill.

He said that concrete, which was poured into the hill to secure the turbines, had affected underground springs and was also causing flash flooding in the village.

Mr Pyke said the concrete caused changes to watercourses, which meant that water used to serve his farm had been diverted elsewhere and some springs had virtually dried up.

RSE has commissioned a detailed independent report into the problems, with the results due later in the summer.

The firm has agreed to help finance some of the farm’s equipment including generators and aerators until the results of the survey are known.

RES said it would respond appropriately to any findings, and if the wind farm was shown to have had any adverse impact on local watercourses it would implement any necessary mitigation.

Mr Pyke said: “I will wait and see what develops but they have told me they want to try and resolve the problems.

“It shows that they do accept that something has gone wrong but it is damage limitation.”

Mr Pyke, who has owned the business with wife Helen since 1991, said he had never had any problems before the six turbine wind farm was built.

He added: “The business is still on a knife edge and it just takes one thing to go wrong and that is it.

“My electricity bills are going up and it will still cost thousands of pounds to resolve the long term problems.

“This is my livelihood and if this continues it will be gone.”

Mr Pyke said that a British Geological Association survey, carried out in 1989, showed that the water flow was consistent for 12 months.

He added: “We live in a unique area geologically and the water follows a complicated route and those underground streams have now been destroyed so the water has gone elsewhere.

“The siting of the turbines has been key to what has happened to the springs.

“I told RES in no uncertain terms what would happen and the survey categorically acknowledged the same thing.

“There has been a complete fundamental change and it is too much of a coincidence that it has happened since the wind farm was built.”

There have also been flooding problems in Gilcrux with residents having to dig trenches to divert water away.

It is believed the flash floods are the consequence of an access road and concrete causing more run-off as the hill is no longer able to soak up the water.

Villager Peter Johnston has nearly been flooded three times in nine months, with water reaching within an inch of his back door.

He said: “We have lived here since 2000 and this only started happening in October last year.

“The geological survey shows there was a constant supply of water to the farm and the only time it has flooded in the village was due to unnatural circumstances.

“It is pretty obvious based on the evidence that it is due to the wind farm.”

Ted Picken, RES construction designer, said: “

“We take all allegations like this extremely seriously and work closely with communities and relevant authorities to investigate them.

“Environmental monitoring has been undertaken throughout the construction of the wind farm, which started in June 2012, and during this time no springs or underground watercourses have been encountered.

“To date, no connection has been found between the flooding and spring drying up and the construction or presence of Tallentire wind farm.

“It is also important to note that the dates for which the reported flooding and drying up of the spring occurred coincided with similar weather and environmental conditions not only in Cumbria, but throughout the North West region.

“RES is in regular contact with the owner of Gilcrux Springs Trout Farm and has offered assistance in helping to support the business over the next few weeks until the outcome of the technical surveys are known.

“We will also continue to keep the local community fully informed on these issues, as we have done at every stage of the project.”