Campaigners in wind farm protest

CAMPAIGNERS will be protesting on the site of a proposed wind farm in Rotherham on Wednesday, in a last-ditch attempt to persuade councillors against granting consent for six new wind turbines.

The turbines, which would each stand 132m (433ft) high – equivalent to the height of a 40-storey building – are set to be built by Banks Developments on fields at Penny Lane, Ulley, close to the junction of the M1 and M18 motorways.

If the wind farm is built it could generate between 31,000 and 45,700 megawatt hours of electricity each year and, over its 25-year life span, could save between 333,250 and 491,275 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

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However, almost 500 letters of objection, as well as a petition bearing 1,792 signatures, have been submitted to Rotherham Council in opposition to the development.

Further objections have been received from the Penny Hill Wind farm Group, which has organised Wednesday's protest, as well as Ulley and Laughton-en-le Morthen parish councils.

Opponents say that the wind farm would have an "unacceptable" effect on the green belt landscape, would devalue local properties, would have a detrimental effect on wildlife in the area and would affect people's health.

Other objectors say the turbines would be out of scale with the village and could distract drivers on the nearby motorways.

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Meanwhile, 812 letters of support, and a petition bearing 191 names, have been submitted backing the scheme.

Supporters point out that climate change is the "greatest threat facing our planet" and the turbines would provide a green, renewable source of energy.

Rob Williams, renewables projects director at Banks Developments, said: "The wind farm would supply around 10,000 houses annually, equating to approximately 10 per cent of the households in Rotherham.

"The proposal also incorporates the inception of a Warm Zone scheme which aims to assist in improving fuel efficiency in the district as well as seeking to alleviate fuel poverty.

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"The ever more pressing need to generate increasing amounts of renewable energy through schemes such as the one proposed here is both accepted and growing, and onshore wind energy has a crucial role to play in meeting local and national energy needs over the coming decades.

"Natural England, the Environment Agency and the Highways Agency raised no objections to the proposal."

Planners at Rotherham Council are backing the plans, saying that the benefits of the turbines would outweigh their visual impact.

In a report to go before Wednesday's planning committee meeting, at which a decision on the wind farm will be made, the planning officials say: "It is considered that the provision of renewable energy and reduction in emissions, the potential landscape and biodiversity improvements and the wider benefits of combating climate change amount to very special circumstances, which clearly outweigh the harm by way of inappropriate development and the effect on the openness of the Green Belt."

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If councillors grant planning consent on Wednesday, the application will then be referred to the Government to be given the go-ahead.

Mr Williams added: "We're obviously very pleased that Rotherham Council's planning officer has recognised the merits of the Penny Hill proposal.

"This is a well-designed scheme that, if approved, would not only contribute significantly towards meeting the Government's 2020 renewable energy objectives, but would also facilitate a range of environmental and community benefits to the surrounding area."