It is a sight that will cheer campaigners across the land.
After blighting the Yorkshire Dales for more than two decades, four giant turbines have been removed from the stunning landscape – the first ever windfarm in Britain to be scrapped.
To the delight of residents and walkers there are once again unspoilt views across the rolling hills and deep blue waters of Chelker Reservoir, near Ilkley.
And to their relief, the 150ft high turbines will not be replaced after the council refused permission for two even bigger machines.
The eyesores were put up in 1992 by Yorkshire Water to power the reservoir’s pumping stations in the face of fierce local opposition.
But according to campaigners, the turbines have not worked in years. In an unprecedented move, the utility company sent in contractors at the end of last month to dismantle the rusting structures.
Peter Rigby, who set up the Parishioners Against the Chelker Turbines, said: ‘This is a real David versus Goliath victory for residents – and the democratic process won out. There was almost unanimous feeling among the parishes that these eyesores were not wanted.
‘We have been told it is the first time in Europe that a wind farm of this scale has been taken down and not replaced.’
He added: ‘It’s been a hell of a fight but we have proved it is possible to stop wind farms.
‘In recent years the turbines have hardly ever worked – they have turned the area into an industrial graveyard and look like rotting tooth stumps.
‘We have always opposed them – and plans for any replacements – on the grounds of health and safety, and the effect on the landscape.
‘This is a magnificent and beautiful part of the country so the proposed new turbines – twice the size of the old ones – would have very seriously affected several villages and nearby Bolton Abbey which is classified as an ancient monument.’
Another campaigner, Catherine Leigh said: ‘It is fantastic news – we all know that for three quarters of the time they have been here the turbines have not been working.’ Craven District Council, the local planning authority, turned down a scheme for two bigger turbines to replace the demolished wind farm, after hearing listed buildings would be adversely affected by the ‘intrusive’ machines.
And English Heritage warned they would refer the plans to central Government if they were passed.
They even wrote to the landowner, the Duke of Devonshire, who owns the 30,000-acre Bolton Abbey estate and leases the reservoir to Yorkshire Water.
The Duke, who also owns the Chatsworth estate, replied that he was happy to see the democratic process taking place.
Council development control officer Ian Swain said: ‘The turbines were originally granted permission in the early 90’s and one of the conditions was that if they ceased to be operational, they would have to be removed.’ Yorkshire Water, owned by the US-based Kelda Group, said it had no plans to appeal the decision to refuse permission for the new turbines.
A spokesman for RenewableUK, which represents the windfarm industry, said they were unaware of any large scale projects being taken down and not replaced.
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