England’s largest wind farm could be built just miles west of Harrogate if all the wind turbines proposed for the area go ahead.
Renewable energy company Infinis are the third developer to eye up a site near to the existing Knabs Ridge wind farm, and have started scoping opinion on plans for 100 feet tall wind turbines.
The company have stressed they are in the ‘very early stages’ of application for turbines at Lindley Moor, close to Beckwithshaw, but opponents fear the cumulative effect of several wind farms proposed nearby will destroy the landscape the area is known for.
Gillian Knox who lives at Fewston said: “This is a beautiful area around here, that people come to from far away.
“Tourists and visitors will be going somewhere else when all the can see is turbines.”
She added: “People in Harrogate seem to be totally unaware of the plans, they don’t realise the impact these things will have. You will just have to look over and all you will see is the turbines, higher than the tallest building.
“This is beautiful, peaceful area. This will just ruin the countryside for everyone, it is unbelievable.”
Beckwithshaw resident Paul Slater, who is a member of opposition group Save the Dales said the loss of leisure land would undermine Harrogate’s position as a desirable place to live.
He said: “Harrogate always ranks highly in national surveys as a desirable place to live, and this is in no small part down to its setting, being surrounded by beautiful, charming and unspoilt countryside.
“The area under threat serves as a significant leisure amenity for the people of the town, and in fact, those from Leeds, Bradford and beyond. It seems to me to short sighted and almost criminal to frame the ‘Gateway to the Dales’ with industrial development on this scale.”
Mr Slater, who lives within a mile of Lindley Moor added: “The car park at nearby Stainburn Moor is frequently busy as the area is popular with walkers and birders.
“There are a number of footpaths close to the site, with a bridleway track running right through it.
“A wind farm is bound to discourage public use of this amenity land.”
Two other separate applications, one for four turbines by Tapar Ltd and another for seven turbines by Kelda Group, Yorkshire Water’s parent company, were lodged to Harrogate Borough Council in 2012.
The two applications have attracted over 1,000 comments online, the majority of which oppose the planned turbines which would be up to 110 metres tall.
Kelda Group have also expressed an interest in another nearby site for 17 turbines in the past, though no formal application or opinion scoping has been submitted.
Gerry Smith of turbine opposition group Save the Dales said: “This latest site is just 400 metres from Kelda second proposed site. The area will all be one giant wind farm.”
“It is inconceivable how anybody could consider this to be a suitable location for any wind farm.
“In its own right the Lindley Moor turbines will dominate over a fair proportion of the nearby Nidderdale AONB; combine this wind farm with the other 34 proposed turbines for the immediate area, plus the existing eight at Knabs Ridge, and the treasured views across much of the AONB will be decimated.”
No decision has been made on either of the current applications, despite decisions being overdue by at least one year.
A spokesman for Harrogate Borough Council said: “Decisions on two applications for wind turbine development in the vicinity of the existing Knabs Ridge wind farm are still pending.
“The council has received objections from the Ministry of Defence, NATS (National Air Traffic Service) and Leeds Bradford Airport in respect of the impact of the proposed turbines on radar systems and has also employed specialist consultants to advise on the noise impact of the proposals.
“Discussion on these two important issues remain ongoing and the applications will be presented to a future meeting of the planning committee once all material planning considerations have been properly considered.”
Mr Smith thinks Tapar Ltd’s plan is likely to be the first to go before the planning committee
He said: “It has all gone quiet, since the Kelda application from August 2012.
“Tapar Ltd have supplied planners with all the additional information they have asked for so it looks likely that their plan will go before planning committee first.
“All eyes will be on that application.
“Then the others will come forward. It is just inconceivable that they think they can stick these things here. It’s scary really.”
RWE npower were granted planning permission for the eight turbine Knabs Ridge wind farm by the government inspectorate following a legal appeal.
Paul Carvey, project development manager at Infinis explained the area is sought after for turbine developers as it is thought to have a good wind speed.
He said: “The site is believed to have a good wind speed, but part of this scoping would involve us checking this ourselves.
“The proposals are for up to six turbines which would be 26.5 metres tall.”
Mr Carvey added: “People have got to understand this is the very early stages. We are not saying we will be building them, or that we will be building all six turbines.
“We are just finding out information from various consultees so we can consider how to move forward.”
The AONB takes a stand
The AONB is one of several consultees for the latest proposal at Lindley Moor, and is ‘strenuously opposing’ any wind farm developments near it’s borders .
Writing to the council on behalf of the Nidderdale AONB’s joint advisory committee, Paul Burgess, AONB manager said: “If consent for these wind farm proposals were to be granted it would create the largest onshore wind farm in England on land within two or three kilometres of the boundary of one of Britain’s finest landscapes. He added: “Those responsible for drawing the boundaries of National Parks and AONBs in the 1940s could not possibly have anticipated the height, extent and density of this type of development, or the threat it represents to the integrity of our most high valued countryside.
“Arguments about buffer zones are irrelevant in this case. The turbines would be a dominant feature in views from some of the AONB’s most renowned moorland landscapes, and have a profoundly adverse effect on their character and value.”
The letter also stated that the AONB ‘takes its responsibilities in the battle against climate change very seriously’ and supports small-scale renewable energy development.
What the politicians think:
MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, Andrew Jones
“In general I do not support onshore wind farms. This is because I do not believe them to be effective in carbon reduction terms, efficient at electricity generation or sightly in our beautiful countryside.
“Wind farms are far better suited to offshore conditions and I think there is a good case for offshore wind farms.
“I have made this point to the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change on the floor of the House of Commons.
“Money spent on onshore wind farms would be better spent investing in microgeneration – generation of electricity at the community and household level.
“This is already happening in the Harrogate district. Carbon emissions and fuel bills are being reduced dramatically in council housing where ground source heat pumps have been installed.
“The new Citizens Advice Bureau near the cinema in Harrogate uses an air source heat pump.
“Onshore wind farms blight the landscape and are not the way forward aesthetically or environmentally in my opinion.”
MP for Skipton and Ripon, Julian Smith
“It is disappointing that energy firms continue to submit speculative scoping applications for wind turbines with no consideration of the impact this has on residents in the area.
“I have campaigned both at Westminster and across the constituency for communities to have more say over where wind farms are built. We need to continue to ensure there is a proper balance between well financed energy firms and residents who feel their views are not taken into account.”
Pateley Bridge County Coun John Fort
“My personal view is that it is over development. The current situation we have got is that the developers are just feeling their way, then we will get applications.
“We should be looking at water reservoirs for as a resource.
“Yorkshire Water already own a lot of the reservoirs and the water systems.
“I am not opposed to smaller scale turbines, not in that sense.
“But with massive ones they are a blight on the landscape, it is a beautiful area there.
“It would totally spoil the landscape.”
Harrogate Borough Coun for the Nidd Valley ward, Coun Helen Flynn
“My overall position is that I am not sure that the business case for onshore wind turbines stacks up, and I have always had an issue with plans from that point of view.
“Offshore wind farms have proven to be very successful and we are leading the way in Europe.
“I am in favour of renewable energy but in this case it is near to the designated AONB area which relies on tourism for its economy.
“I agree with micro-generation, smaller scale production on land and in Nidderdale we are starting to see wind and water micro-generation in lots of places which is great.”