Anger growing at wind farm plans

Wind farm protest sign.  (120907M1b)
Wind farm protest sign. (120907M1b)

Campaigners are stepping up their fight against plans for a new wind farm to the west of Harrogate.

Developer Kelda Water Services has submitted an application for seven turbines off Penny Pot Lane, while two other potential developments could take the total number of turbines around Knabs Ridge to 36.

A spokesman for the Save the Dales group, set up in opposition to the plans, told the Advertiser: “A lot of anger has been coming out.

“It’s really starting to dawn on people just where these things will actually be seen from. This would have a tremendous and wide-ranging impact on the beautiful landscape around the site and on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The most definite effect would be in relation to tourism. It would impact on the jewels in the crown of the area: the various heritage sites, ranging from John of Gaunt’s Castle to Little Almscliffe and How Hill, which is part of Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.”

The group has highlighted what Kelda calls the “zone of theoretical visibility” – an area covering up to 30km from where the turbines could be seen, including Harewood House, Ripley Castle, the Grade I listed St Wilfrid’s Church in Harrogate, and Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal, the area’s only World Heritage Site.

“If this was to go ahead, it would set the most dangerous precedent possible, opening the door to many other locations in the AONB and Dales,” the Save the Dales spokesman added.

“This isn’t just about the seven turbines, it’s about the 21 which could follow if this is approved, which would be absolutely devastating for the area.

“We’re privileged to live in this area and it has to be preserved for future generations.”

The group has also been critical of Kelda’s consultation process, saying the information leaflet sent to residents was substandard and questioning the amount of energy the 100m turbines would actually produce.

Donna Kingett, from Kelda, said: “As a group, we are looking at renewable energy sources, and wind is one of those elements.

“This is a suitable site, predominantly because there’s a good profile of wind, and there is already a wind farm there.”

She added that the company had held four public meetings about the proposals and stood by the figures in its literature.

Kelda’s application for a further 17 turbines at nearby Haverah Park is being submitted later, as reports are needed about the effect on birds.

There are currently eight turbines at Knabs Ridge, which were erected in 2008. In addition to Kelda’s plans, another firm, Tapar, is looking at the possibility of a further four.

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones said he was opposed to on-shore wind farms in principle, and the possibility of 36 turbines even more so.

Kelda argues that the suitability of the site has been established by its inclusion in Harrogate Council’s Planning and Climate Change study, and by the existing turbines, installed after a successful appeal to the government.

Members of the public and interested parties have until next Saturday, September 22, to comment on the proposals, which will be determined by Harrogate Council planners.

To view the application, go to www.harrogate.gov.uk, click on Public Access and enter reference 12/02939/EIAMAJ.