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A landscape of giant turbines

Giant wind turbines have come into operation at moorland sites just over the Lancashire border near Todmorden.

With the planned installation of similiar super wind turbines on Ovenden Moor later this year, it’s a sign of things to come.

A group of nine 375ft (115m) turbines will be a new addition to the Halifax landscape.

We look at the arguments for and against the expansion of wind farms in Calderdale.

Few issues are as divisive as the installation of wind farms.

With plans to erect nine 375ft (115m) high super wind turbines taking place on Ovenden Moor overlooking Halifax, it’s an issue that won’t go away.

The turbines will replace the 23 existing 161ft (48.9m) high turbines on the Ovenden Moor site.

The giant turbines will be visible from 35 miles away on a clear day and will cast a permanent shadow over Halifax and surrounding areas.

“We’re already living in a wind farm landscape, and the turbines currently installed on Ovenden Moor are actually classed as small turbines now – they’re not classed as industrial anymore,” said Anthea Orchard, 35, co-ordinator of the Thornton Moor Wind Farm Action Group, a campaign group that opposed the Ovenden Moor proposals.

“The turbines they want to replace them with are more than double the size.”

Mrs Orchard lives almost two miles away from the current site and can hear them from her home.

She said: “People have got used to the ones that are there at the moment, but they haven’t thought about the implications of the construction.

“I can see the 23 turbines through my conservatory window, and when the sun goes down shadows flicker and that’s only going to get worse with bigger turbines because we only really see the tips at the moment.

“I don’t object to all wind farms, but politicians need to be aware of how they affect people – they need to look at the bigger picture.”

Steve Kusyj, 56, successfully campaigned against the installation of a wind turbine near his home at Mount Tabor in January and is concerned that the super wind farm will be visible from his house.

Mr Kusyj said that many of the arguments in support of wind farms simply don’t add up, and that energy companies should focus on more reliable methods for generating electricity.

“The fact is that we can’t live off renewable energy – wind turbines need to be subsidised by other forms of power,” he said.

“The directors of these wind farm companies aren’t going to be ones living in the shadow of these turbines.”

Although wind farms have their critics, there is also a strong need to keep up with our ever-increasing demand for energy.

With the planned closure of coal powered plants over the next few years, the need to plug in the energy gap is an urgent one.

Professor Andrew Heyes, professor of energy technology and environment at the University of Leeds said: “Over the next few years the margin between capacity and demand is getting smaller.

“One of the ways to fix this is with the installation of new wind turbines – and unfortunately they’ve got to go somewhere.

“You’d think that the most important argument for wind farms would be for environmental or green reasons, but in reality they’re necessary to keep up with our increasing demand for electricity.”

The new breed of super wind turbines can generate up to seven times the amount of electricity than those currently on Ovenden Moor.

For supporters, they are preferable to coal powered plants, nuclear power and even solar farms which occupy acres of land.

Susan Thomas of Calderdale Green Party said: “What objectors to wind farms need to consider is the comparative potential harmful effects of both nuclear and in particular fracking.

“We must all play our part in the generation of energy just as we all enjoy the use of it.

“Large, efficient turbines effectively sited on windy hillsides would seem to be one of Calderdale’s best opportunities to contribute it’s share of this.”

Gary Coombs, director of Yorkshire Wind Power Ltd – the company behind the super wind farms – disagrees with critics who say that wind turbines are inefficient. He said: “We would not be investing in a project of this type if it was inefficient – we’re a business at the end of the day.”

Responding to local concerns that the wind farm will be intrusive, Mr Coombs said: “We are sympathetic to local concerns, but we have to get the balance right. Unfortunately you can’t satisfy people 100 per cent of the time, especially when it comes to renewables.”