Wind farm opponents hit back

CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans for a wind farm on the edge of the Peak District hit back yesterday after Green Party politicians dismissed their claims that the project would affect people's lives.

Earlier this month, the party signalled protesters should give up their fight, with councillors and activists saying the wind farm "would play an important role in tackling climate change".

But now those opposed to the turbines have produced an independent report drawn up by noise consultants, which apparently demonstrates that more than 40 families will be affected.

The Protect Sheephouse Heights group was set up last year, after Sheffield-based wind energy company Evelop revealed plans for five turbines on the site near Penistone.

Objections to the development have also been lodged by the Peak District National Park Authority and Sheffield Council, while MPs have also voiced concerns over the size of the scheme.

Protesters have previously produced figures showing the 400ft turbines will be as high as Blackpool Tower, and argue that the proposed site, close to the A616 Stocksbridge bypass, is unsuitable.

Alan Hey, a spokesman for the protest group, said the detail of the report would not be released until it had been examined by Barnsley Council, which will determine the wind farm application.

But he added: "Protect Sheephouse Heights action group has discovered that over 40 families, some with small children, will be affected by unacceptable levels of noise from the turbines.

"An independent report, commissioned by the group from one of the UK's top noise consultants, shows that major noise nuisance will be caused, particularly at night, to those families living near the development site.

"Noise levels will breach statutory guidelines set by the Government for wind farms. The report also casts serious doubt on the credibility of Evelop's own data, which concluded that no-one would be adversely affected."

Evelop has continually claimed noise was not an issue with its turbines, and recently took a group of councillors to a similar development in Lissett, near Bridlington, in a bid to prove its point. Bosses have now organised another trip for Saturday, June 6, and an invitation has been extended to residents in Penistone, Stocksbridge and surrounding areas to sign up.

Olly Buck, project manager for Evelop, said: "During our public exhibitions we offered people the chance to see a working wind farm for themselves.

"It really is an opportunity for residents to get a closer look at a modern working wind farm and we are delighted many people have already expressed an interest in making the visit.

"The trips are about letting people see for themselves what the turbines look like and it

gives them a chance to find

out more about the part wind farms play in tackling climate change."

Mr Buck said members of Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and protest groups also visited the site at Lissett. He claimed many were surprised at how quiet the wind farm was and said there were comments that the turbines looked "much smaller than they expected".

Barnsley Council is expected to consider the application, taking into account the evidence presented by Evelop, protesters and green activists, in July.