Critics of village wind turbines win key support

Brian Johnston
Brian Johnston
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CAMPAIGNERS have heralded a major victory in their battle to halt wind turbines being built near some of Yorkshire’s most sought-after villages after warnings the development could severely impinge on views once loved by one of cricket’s treasured commentators.

More than 300 objections have been lodged with Harrogate Borough Council over plans for the turbines in the Lower Wharfe Valley, close to the villages of Sicklinghall, Kearby and Kirkby Overblow. The two turbines are earmarked for land which is said to have been one of the favourite views in Yorkshire of cricket commentator Brian Johnston, which he visited whenever he came to a Headingley Test match before his death in 1994.

A report by the council’s landscape architect, Debbie Samuel, to the authority’s planning department claimed the pair of turbines have the “potential to damage historic and classic long distance views” and would be “harmful to the landscape area”.

A spokesman for the opponents to the plans, Guy Townsend, who lives in Kearby, said: “This report is very welcome indeed and gives credence to our fight.

“It backs up what we have been saying from the offset, namely if planning permission for these huge turbines is given the go-ahead, we can say goodbye to the wonderful views this area is famed for. Far from improving the environment, they will cause it untold damage.”

If planning permission is granted, the tallest of the two turbines, measuring 153ft, will be built at Paddock House Lane, Sicklinghall. The second turbine, slightly shorter at 113ft, would stand close to the highest point of the ridge at Kearby.

Officials from Earthmill, which is involved in the applications, maintained the project would be on a small-scale and denied the turbines would harm the landscapes. The company said they would connect directly to farms and help to reduce energy bills.

The campaigners have, however, already won the support of the Conservative MP for Selby and Ainsty, Nigel Adams, and the Campaign to Protect Rural England in their fight to halt the proposals.

The managing director of Earthmill, Steve Milner, has stressed the plans are for a “small scale project” which should not be confused with a larger commercial development. He claimed the turbines would help farmers “diversify and generate extra income to support their business for future generations”.

But Mrs Samuel said the turbine planned for Paddock House Lane would be “dominant when viewed on the skyline”, while there is “likely to be a high degree of visibility” if the second turbine is built at Kirby Lane.

Campaigners have expressed concerns about the impact the development would have on views from Harewood Castle, in the grounds of Harewood House, near Leeds,

Mr Townsend added: “We know these applications are being viewed closely by other landowners and renewable energy companies. If they are approved then it will open the floodgate to many more.”

He also claimed the turbines could pose a threat to wildlife, including a thriving red kite colony, bats and migrating geese.