THE first of six huge turbines which will make up Yorkshire’s newest wind farm was finished yesterday, and the company behind the project said it would generate enough power for 12,000 homes.
Engineers will now move on to complete the other five electricity-generating giants on the site alongside the M1 near Ulley, Rotherham. At 132m (433ft), they are the largest in the UK.
Phil Dyke, development director at Derbyshire-based Banks Renewables, which has been working on the scheme for more than two years, said work should be complete by the end of this month.
He added: “Each turbine will produce 3.4 megawatts of power, which means they are big, and once they are all in operation, they will generate 20.4 megawatts, enough to supply 12,000 homes.
“It is a significant scheme and we have carried out a lot of public consultation. We have had a lot of support but of course there are people who were concerned by some of the issues involved.”
The wind farm, known as Penny Hill, is close to the intersection of the M1 and M18 and the first turbine is the closest to the motorway, while others will be built closer to the village.
People who lived nearby launched the Penny Hill Action Group to oppose the plan, but it was approved by Rotherham Council, despite Ulley being considered for conservation area status at the time.
Since then the village has won protection under the law, but its parish council chairman Peter Hubbard told the Yorkshire Post that villagers were now resigned to living with the turbines nearby.
Mr Dyke said issues with ordering the massive turbines had led to the gap of more than two years between winning planning permission and actually getting one of the machines onto the site.
A neighbourhood group was set up which has been told when the turbines were set to arrive on site and when lorries are likely to be moving on the specially-planned route from the M18.
Mr Dyke added: “We realise that at first people may need some time to get used to the change in the landscape, but we hope that in time the wind farm will be seen as a kind of gateway.
“It is at the southern end of Yorkshire on one of the main routes in and, like the Tinsley towers which used to stand next to the M1 near Meadowhall, we hope they will mark when people leave or arrive in the county.
“We think it will reflect really well on Rotherham and although quite a lot of ground work has had to be done and roads have had to be identified for moving the machinery, the project is nearing completion.”
Banks Renewables, which is a division of a Durham-based firm which also has property and mining arms, will own the electricity generated and will sell it to the National Grid.
It is estimated that the wind farm’s generation capacity will, on average be enough to power 10 per cent of Rotherham’s households, although the electricity could be used anywhere.
The firm said it chose the site in the rolling farmland because it had an open aspect to prevailing winds from the south-west. The blades of the turbines are themselves 50m (164ft) and have posed some problems on the narrow country lanes.
Part of the site is owned by Lord Halifax and Banks Renewables said it had agreed with him a fund which would be used for villagers in Ulley.
Mr Dyke said: “There are a number of benefits for the surrounding area, biggest of which is the fact that it is generating green, no-carbon power.
“But we have also set up a charity called Warm Zone, which will put around £2.5m into local projects to reduce fuel poverty and another £20,000 fund for local community projects.”