CAMPAIGNERS say they are devastated after losing a battle to stop a £12m wind farm being built amid the wild moorland that inspired Wuthering Heights.
They warned the celebrated landscape would be destroyed forever by the turbines twice the height of Nelson’s Column that would “loom monstrously” over Brontë country.
The scheme at Ovenden Moor, near Halifax, was unanimously approved by a Calderdale Council planning committee yesterday despite passionate pleas by the Brontë Society that it would destroy “the crown jewels” of Yorkshire’s literary heritage.
Afterwards, Society chairman Sally McDonald said: “Haworth should be one of the crown jewels of West Yorkshire. These turbines will loom over the whole landscape and visitors will be disappointed because the feeling of isolation once provided by the moors will be gone. Who knows what the next planning application will be? Haworth could be increasingly surrounded by such structures.
“There has been a lack of understanding and sensitivity to the value of this unique and iconic landscape. If that had been understood, the decision would not have made in this way.”
Earlier she told the meeting: “These columns are twice the height of Nelson’s Column and where else but London do you get structures as high as that?
“They will loom monstrously over the whole of the Worth Valley Watershed.”
The scheme is one of two threatening the literary landscape overlooking Haworth Parsonage.
Fury erupted in April when a scheme was unveiled by Banks Renewable Energy for four 328ft turbines on Thornton Moor.
Then in August campaigners found themselves fighting on two fronts when energy giant E.ON announced plans for nine 377ft tall turbines – Nelson’s Column is 169ft tall – on Ovenden Moor, four miles away.
Yesterday campaigners arrived in force at Halifax Town Hall to protest that the impact of turbines at Ovenden – 1,440ft above sea level – would devastate Brontë country’s picturesque villages.
But Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for economy and environment Barry Collins said: “Obviously, this is a really serious decision with great sensitivity around it. But while I recognise there is some opposition there is no sense of overwhelming opposition to this proposal from the local community.
“You can see these turbines from almost anywhere in Calderdale already and although they will be made bigger they will be fewer.
“They will not be overwhelmingly more oppressive than the current array.
“Calderdale has committed itself to the most challenging of targets for sustainable energy generation and to meet those targets proposals like this are quite critical. In many ways, it is practical to have high delivery arrays like this rather than a landscape dotted with individual wind turbines.”
Developers’ agent Emma Clark stressed that they would look after the environment and had done similar things elsewhere.
She said the site was good as wind speeds were high. The wind farm had done well since being built in June 1993 and, with the upgrade, would do even better.
Friends of the Earth produced were one of eight submissions in favour of the scheme, compared with 108 against, supporting the plans because the site would help Government targets to reduce the global carbon footprint.
But Ms McDonald said: “I’m gutted. The only option now is to write letters to the Secretary of State. We were not objecting to wind farms just the visibility of the turbines but they did not seem to think this would be a problem. There was nothing in the discussion about the impact on Haworth or its tourism. People all over the world will be disappointed by this.
“What visitors expect to see was ‘the high waving heather’ described by Emily Brontë – not ‘high spinning turbines’.
“We fear now this has been approved there is no reason for Haworth not to be fully encircled by similar developments in ten years.
“It is a green light for any and all such developments.”