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Aristocrat claims ‘relative’ owns wind farm land, despite his name on paperwork

An aristocrat has attempted to deflect public anger over a wind farm by claiming he gave a mysterious relative the land for the proposed site – despite his name being on the planning application.

William Legge, the Earl of Dartmouth and Ukip MEP, has said he will be objecting to the wind turbines on the West Yorkshire plot he once owned, in line with the policies of his political party.

But documents submitted to Kirklees Council list a “William Dartmouth” in the owners and tenants section of the application.

Ukip’s 2014 manifesto says the Eurosceptic party is “fighting against wind farms”, to which the Lord Dartmouth has insisted he is “fully committed”.

The MEP for South West England said the land on Slaithwaite Moor, which has been earmarked for a project by Valley Wind Co-operative, now belongs to a relative.

Valley Wind hopes to build three 99.5m turbines on the 3.13-hectare (7.7 acre) site next to Cupwith Reservoir, between Huddersfield and Rochdale.

Locals raised concern over the plans to erect the wind farm, but Lord Dartmouth denies any involvement with the co-operative, as he signed over the land to a group called Rosscroft Ltd on February 10, 2011.

However, a detailed agreement for a wind farm on Slaithwaite Moor was signed between Rosscroft and Valley Wind on May 3, 2011 leading to speculation about whether Lord Dartmouth had been involved.

A Slaithwaite resident, who did not want to be named, said: “Dartmouth transferred the land to Rosscroft and then Rosscroft signed an agreement with Valley Wind in just over 11 weeks.

“Surely that’s not long enough to go through a proper tendering process?”

Valley Wind’s planning application was lodged with Kirklees Council in November but councillors are yet to decide on the proposal.

The name “William Dartmouth” is listed on the planning application in the owners and tenants section.

Lord Dartmouth’s links with Rosscroft are difficult to trace as it is run by a web of other companies and directorships based in the Bahamas and Monaco.

But he has admitted Rosscroft “represent (sic) the entire extended Dartmouth family… as well as many other clients”.

Lord Dartmouth, said: “I made no financial benefit from the transfer of the land and I will not have any financial benefit from the land if the application ever does become successful.”

He added: “I will be registering an objection to the proposed application for wind turbines on the land I once owned.

“I remain fully committed to UKIP’s policy of opposing wind turbine development both onshore and offshore.”

The MEP says the land is now owned by “a relative”. The Valley Wind Co-op declined to comment further.