Opponents to plans to install two wind turbines in Weaverthorpe have expressed concern that granting planning permission would declare “open-season” for a flood of similar applications.
Residents of neighbouring Helperthorpe claim the project initiated by a not-for-profit organisation, Three Weavers Green, for the wind turbines, goes against the wishes of most local people.
Evan Ferguson, one of the opponents, said that until a few weeks ago almost nobody in Helperthorpe knew anything about the wind turbines, while those who did were applying for a turbine of their own.
He said: “The group making the applications has no members, no committee members and no directors from Helperthorpe – and has made no effort to recruit any – and, it seems, very few people in Weaverthorpe knew anything about the size or location of the turbines either.
“Happily talking only to themselves, this small group has been working with non-local consultants and non-local advisers to prepare and submit their planning applications, which were launched with a flourish, only after they had been submitted to Ryedale, at The Star in Weaverthorpe, on August 5.”
Mr Ferguson said: “People from Helperthorpe who went along to The Star that night were stunned, then shocked, then angry as they realised that Weaverthorpe’s “community-interest” turbine wasn’t in Weaverthorpe at all, but near the top of the hill to the south-east of Helperthorpe and looming over the village.”
“This part of the Great Wold Valley already has more than its fair share of wind turbines and is jokingly referred to by some delivery drivers as ‘windmill city’. While we have generally been supportive of the existing, small 50kW turbines applied for by local farmers to provide electricity for their own use, the 500kW monsters being applied for by Three Weavers Green are a different matter entirely.”
Mr Ferguson said that if Ryedale District Council gave permission to any of the current crop of 500kW turbine applications, they would be declaring open-season for a flood of similar, speculative applications over the next few months, as the Feed-in-Tariffs are set to fall from April 2014.
“Not only that, but Ryedale would be announcing that any small, self-interested group anywhere in this district can pick on their smaller neighbours and bully them into accepting the unacceptable, simply by pretending that their plans are for ‘community-interest’ and/or for the ‘greater good’,” he said.
“By attempting a ‘smash-and-grab’ raid on this part of the Great Wold Valley, the applicants seem to have assumed that these small, quiet villages are defenceless; however, attacking us in this way, they have made a lot of quiet people very, very angry.”
Jill Wilson, a member of Three Weavers Green, said the project had been on-going for two years with numerous public events advertised in the Warbler, the valley newsletter.
She said: “We have tried to answer people’s questions only to be told that we are lying and that the answers provided by the professionals who have worked on these applications are untrue because ‘you’re paying them’.
“I would like to tell these protestors the sorts of things they are objecting to, such as, bursaries for students; an integrated public transport system which would allow people to travel to work and also help the environment; energy saving grants for insulation and solar panels; a hedge-laying training and work scheme, as well as £200 per household per year in the three ecclesiastical parishes.”
Jill said: “Our aim from the start has been to try to make this area sustainable for all, not just the people who can easily afford to live here, but also for those who are less well-off and to help those that are born here to have a future in the place they call home.”