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Campaigners’ joy at wind farm victory

Campaigners against a wind farm – which would have boasted turbines twice the height of York Minster – have hailed a decision by the Government to block the proposals.

Eric Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities, last week overruled a planning inspector who recommended that RWE Npower Renewables Ltd’s plans for ten 126-metre high wind turbines at East Heslerton should go ahead – despite almost unanimous rejection by Ryedale District Council’s Planning Committee.

He ruled the windfarm “would introduce a highly intrusive form of development”.

The turbines, he said, would harm the view from the North Yorkshire Moors National Park as well as interfere with the 
enjoyment of heritage assets such as St Andrew’s Church, East Heslerton.

Mr Pickles agreed with the National Park’s director of planning that the development “would seriously undermine these landscape features” because of “its scale, vertical emphasis, the number of turbines, their elevated siting, movement and prominence on the horizon.”

The decision by Mr Pickles has delighted campaigners who have fought a four-year battle against the wind farm proposals.

Leading campaigner Paul Stephens, whose farm would have been in the shadows of the turbines, said: “As a farmer, I consider myself a custodian of the countryside and it is my duty to look after the place where I am privileged to live.

“My principal reason for objection for the last four years has been because I hated the thought that my two neighbours and the developer, wanted to build a huge wind factory in this area of High Landscape Value, purely for financial reward and without any concern for their neighbours and the enjoyment that local people and visitors get when they want to take in the beauty of this area.

“I have been called a Nimby by objecting, but if this means that I want to protect the area where I was born and the countryside that I love, then I am proud to be a Nimby.”

“The dismissal of the appeal is the best news that has happened for the Yorkshire Wolds as I hope it sends a clear message to the developers of other proposed wind farms in the area.”

The RWE Npower Renewables scheme attracted widespread opposition from residents in the district, as well as from parish councils, Ryedale District Council and other authorities and organisations, including the Ministry of Defence, Campaign to Protect Rural England and English Heritage.

The company, however, argued there was support locally for their plans.

The controversy led to a public inquiry which resulted in planning inspector Paul Jackson recommending in favour of the development, only to be overturned by Mr Pickles.

Ryedale Cllr Edward Legard, who represents the Wolds ward, said: “His decision has significant implications not only for Ryedale but for the wider geographical area – East Yorkshire in particular – where the construction of large wind farms remains a constant threat.

“This was never an argument about renewable energy but all about preserving, for future generations, an historic and precious landscape.”

*RWE Npower Renewables Ltd now has six weeks to decide whether to take the case to the High Court.