The tallest wind turbines in England are coming to Hartlepool after councillors gave their backing to plans.
Three of the towering structures each measuring 574 feet tall – 56ft higher than the Blackpool Tower – are set to be built at neighbouring industrial sites across town.
Hundreds of people both objected to and supported the scheme which developers say puts Hartlepool on the green energy map.
They are due to sprout up on land at Tofts Road West, Brenda Road West industrial estate and Graythorp industrial estate.
They will be developed by Hartlepool firm Seneca and operate for 25-30 years.
The council chamber at Hartlepool Civic Centre was packed for a meeting to decide permission yesterday.
There was roughly a 50-50 split of objectors and supporters in the audience.
A total of 614 letters of objection were sent to the council on the grounds of their size, effect on the landscape, closeness to houses at Seaton Carew and noise pollution fears.
Glenn Thompson, who spoke on behalf of objectors, said: “They are too large for the proximity to housing, are overbearing and out of scale with existing developments.
“We believe these turbines will have an unacceptable impact on the landscape and residential amenity of those living in nearby wards.”
He added noise pollution from such turbines was more widespread then previously thought.
But 775 letters were sent in support, due to their potential to provide green energy for the town.
Each will have the capacity to produce 3.3 megawatts of electricity for the local network, enough for 4,833 households, or 11.8 per cent of the population of Hartlepool.
Jackie Mason, who attended the meeting in support of the scheme, said: “You have to think about our children’s future.
“Why go against renewable energy when we are running out of fossil fuels.
“If it is always windy and sunny we are going to have energy.”
Petitions both for and against the scheme were also lodged with 405 people against them and 369 in favour.
Councillors approved the turbines, subject to conditions and an updated bird survey, by seven votes to three.
Coun Geoff Lilley said he was in favour of renewable energy.
But voting against the proposals he added: “Without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, these will have a detrimental visual impact, not just on Seaton Carew, but also Greatham, a place very close to my heart.
“I think it’s just too close to residential properties and because it is on a flood plain, it’s just not acceptable.”
But Coun Ray Martin Wells said: “I have not had a single complaint from anyone in Elwick about the three turbines that are very close.
“With this I have asked myself ‘would I be happy with it if it was in a field at the back of my house?’ and I would not have a problem.”
Daniel Grierson, of The Energy Workshop, which is working with the developer, said: “This really puts Hartlepool on the renewable energy map.
“These will be the tallest turbines operating in England, but probably not for long.
“The scheme is a symbol of commitment to the green energy sector.”
He added bigger turbines are no louder than the smaller ones, already seen near Hart and Elwick in Hartlepool, and say the applicant will work with the council to overcome people’s concerns.
When asked by Coun George Springer about safety risks from fires and parts falling off the turbines, Mr Grierson said: “Big modern turbines have much more safety mechanisms built into them.
“Nowhere in Europe has anyone been injured as a result of a blade coming off.”
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