Wind plan opponents cast doubt on scheme for moors

Have your say

OPPOSITION is growing to a co-operative group’s plans to build towering wind turbines on Pennine moorland.

Valley Wind Co-operative, based in Huddersfield’s Colne Valley, has submitted plans for three 328ft (100m) high turbines on Slaithwaite Moor, close to Cupwith Reservoir, near Huddersfield.

Valley Wind is looking to raise £10m from the sale of shares in the scheme, with investors invited to put in anything from £250 to £20,000.

But now an opposition group, Slaithwaite Moor Opposes Giant Industrial Turbines (SMOGIT), has been set up to campaign against the scheme.

Supporters of the protest group are meeting tonight at the Rose and Crown pub at Cop Hill, Huddersfield.

Spokeswoman Vicky Berryman, a chartered landscape architect who lives at Merrydale, near Slaithwaite, said many people might not be aware of the sheer size of a 100m structure.

Mrs Berryman, who part owns a holiday cottage which is near her own home, believes the turbines could damage tourism.

“I am aware that tourism is growing within our district and Yorkshire was recently voted the third most popular destination in Europe. The proposed 100m turbines would undoubtedly damage this growth. You certainly wouldn’t find them in the Cotswolds or the Lake District, so why should we be so careless of our limited and thinly spread assets?

“It is claimed that these will be for the benefit of the community. They will undoubtedly bring financial benefit to the shareholders, but what of the long-term losses to the area, what of our quality of life and what of those who can’t or choose not to buy shares?”

Mrs Berryman is urging residents to make their views known by emailing or writing to Kirklees Council’s planning department.

Huddersfield Civic Society is also objecting.

Spokesman Frank O’Brien said: “We will be objecting on the huge size of the turbines, their effect on the iconic views from Castle Hill and the destruction of the openness of the Green Belt and the wildness, tranquillity and recreational attraction of the high moorland plateau.”

Mr O’Brien said he understood that the Council for the Protection of Rural England is also planning to object.

Supporters of the proposals include Friends of the Earth.

Simon Bowens, Yorkshire campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said of the Valley Wind proposals: “Wind power has a vital role to play in tackling climate change and weaning us off increasingly expensive fossil fuels.

“The Valley Wind project is a welcome part of the movement to a clean energy system. Being owned by the local community means that the benefits stay in the Colne Valley rather than going to the Big Six energy companies.

“Friends of the Earth urges local residents and the council to get behind the project and make it a reality in 2014.”

Planning documents submitted on behalf of Valley Wind state that the structures will inevitably have a number of significant effects on the landscape – including seven of the eight properties located within 1km of the site.

The effect on properties just 400m from the site “could be considered to be overwhelming or overbearing,” according to an environmental statement submitted as part of the planning application.

It adds: “It is inevitable that a development measuring 100m in height will cause a number of significant landscape and visual effects. However the occurrence of a significant effect does not necessarily constitute serious environmental harm.”

Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney has also expressed his doubts, saying Valley Wind hadn’t yet convinced the community of the merits of the scheme.

In a running poll on the Tory MP’s website, 57 per cent of those voting oppose the Slaithwaite turbine scheme and 41 per cent are in favour with a handful of ‘unsures’ from 1,139 votes.

Public consultation is open until January 17.