Campaigners fighting plans for a wind farm on a prominent site on the Yorkshire Wolds have begun drawing up their case against the turbines after being told the issue will be decided at a public inquiry.
RWE Npower Renewables wants to build 10 turbines, 126 metres high to the blade tip, on land at Ling Hall Farm, West Heslerton, near Malton, but earlier this year members of Ryedale District Council’s planning committee threw the proposals out after the authority received 380 letters objecting to the scheme.
However councillors and residents in the area have now been told the issue is to be settled at a public inquiry in November after the developer appealed against the decision.
Paul Stephens of Moor Farm, West Heslerton, said his farm would border the site of the development: “If the wind farm is built it will ruin a panoramic and historic landscape.”
His personal objection to the development is that it will jeopardise an airstrip he has nearby. “It will cause a huge safety problem,” said Mr Stephens.
Wolds farmer James Cundall said: “The turbines will be seen from as far away as the North York Moors National Park and Scarborough as well as being very close to the Wolds Way one of the country’s leading public rights of way.”
He added: “Those who have been complacent about the scheme will be very shocked with the turbines if they get planning permission at the inquiry.”
Landowners, farmers and residents from several villages on the Wolds recently gathered near the site to hear more about local concerns.
Coun Edward Legard, a member of Ryedale District Council, said: “The Wolds are a very precious and historic landscape. We are fighting as hard as we can to put the case to the Government planning inspector.”
Earlier this year Communities Secretary Eric Pickles raised hopes the Government is changing tack on the issue when he announced that local communities would be given “a greater say on planning, to give greater weight to the protection of the landscape, heritage and local amenity”.
Coun Legard said he believed that Government planning policy was now in support of the public when they voiced their views strongly on such issues as wind farms.
“We have strong grounds to object to this wind farm.”
He said he was hoping to have an evening session at the inquiry, due to be held at Ryedale House, Malton, starting on November 19 when residents would be able to have their say.
Objectors believe the turbines would be a blight on the landscape and claimed they would be seen from the Vale of Pickering, Scarborough and even the North York Moors National Park.
However, speaking after the planning committee’s decision, which went against the recommendations of council officers who had urged members to give the plans the green light. Martin Wood, RWE Npower Renewables’ developer, said: “We are extremely disappointed with this decision as it is a great location for a wind farm.
“Meeting UK targets for renewable energy remains a huge challenge and we believe that onshore wind farms such as the one proposed near East Heslerton play an important part in the ongoing effort to help tackle climate change.”
Mr Wood, speaking afterwards, added that the authority’s decision meant that vital investment would not be made in the local economy.
The authority also received 552 letters of support from people saying the scheme would help tackle climate change and would also generate employment.
Officers said in a report prepared for the planning committee that the impact on the wider landscape including the National Park would “not be significant” and warned it would be difficult to defend a reason for refusal if the scheme went to appeal.
Coun John Raper, chairman of the planning committee, said after the meeting members had resolved that while the proposal would reduce carbon emissions “the impact of the 126 metre turbines was considered to be so significant” that members felt they could not back the plans.
In a report to the council, RWE, said the wind farm would help meet renewable energy targets: “The Government has a target of cutting carbon monoxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.
“It is considered that East Heslerton wind farm would make an important contribution towards this.”
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