Opponents hope to shoot down windfarm plans on airfield site

Simon Bristow

OPPONENTS including aviators, an MP, a Euro-MP, seven parish councils and two bird conservation groups are hoping to scupper plans by an Italian-owned company to build a windfarm on the site of a First World War airfield in Yorkshire.

Energy firm Falck Renewables Plc, a subsidiary of the Milan-based Falck Group, is seeking planning permission for a five-turbine windfarm at Spaldington Airfield.

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The development, which would also include an anemometry mast, a control building and associated infrastructure, would be connected to the national grid and generate a maximum of 15 megawatts of electricity.

Although 431 letters supporting the application have been submitted to the planning authority, the scheme will have to overcome widespread opposition if it is to get off the ground.

The site is on a wetland area of major archaeological significance and construction would also disturb remains relating to the airfield.

The airfield, which closed in 1930, was built in 1915 and included a guardhouse, wireless hut, a blacksmith’s workshop, carpenter’s shop, a parade ground and living quarters.

The largest airship shed in the world was built on the site in 1919.

The scheme could force the closure of nearby Breighton Aerodrome, its operators have warned.

The windfarm would be less than two miles from the end of the runway – perilously close, according to the operators.

They said: “The turbines are located where an aircraft would descend to 120 metres or so on its base leg in a normal landing circuit pattern.

“For most pilots a smooth landing depends upon an accurate circuit having been flown. Local obstacles can present a further hazard to increase the workload of a pilot at this critical phase of the flight.

“Due to weather conditions low level circuit flying is often required. The proposal would represent a very clear conflict and would pose a significant risk to public safety.”

Objections on safety grounds have also been submitted by the General Aviation Awareness Council and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

The operations officer at RAF Leconfield said the site could potentially obstruct movement of search and rescue helicopters, and asked for red warning lights to be attached to the top of each turbine if the plans were approved.

The turbines would be 126 metres (413ft) high to the tip of the blade and 80 metres (262ft) high to the hub.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is another opponent, while the East Yorkshire Barn Owl Survey and Conservation Group said it was “extremely concerned”.

It said the turbines would place “an additional burden on this iconic bird’s already challenging quest for survival”, and said the noise from the turbines would make it almost impossible for the owl to locate its prey.

Nearly 400 letters of objection have been submitted and other opponents include Haltemprice and Howden MP David Davis, Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire Euro-MP Godfrey Bloom and the Ramblers Association.

Mr Bloom called the turbines “ugly monsters” that would “desecrate” the landscape.

Many of the objectors to the airfield scheme are also opposing a separate application by Volkswind (UK) Ltd to build a seven-turbine windfarm in the same village.

Both applications will be considered by East Riding Council’s planning committee next Thursday.