Victory for Brontës as turbines scheme a write-off

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to defend the moorland that inspired Wuthering Heights hope they have reached a turning point in their battle against wind farms which they claim will destroy the Brontë legacy forever.

The Wuthering Heights landscape

The latest turbine scheme at Haworth in West Yorkshire has been banned, because of the area’s literary importance, leading Brontë fans to hail the decision by local councillors as a landmark ruling.

For the first time, Bradford Council’s planners have put the sisters’ literary legacy before the Government’s green energy agenda. The area attracts visitors from around the world wanting to see the moorland views that inspired much of the Brontës’ finest writing.

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But more than a dozen applications for turbines have been submitted to Bradford Council in the past year, in addition to plans approved by neighbouring Calderdale for Ovenden Moor. The latest threat was a scheme for a 50ft turbine at Hardnaze Farm, Oxenhope, Keighley, less than two miles from Haworth. But now Bradford Council has ruled the proposals would do little to boost renewable energy while creating a blot on Brontë Country.

Council officers also felt the turbine could harm the area’s wildlife being located just 230 yards from the South Pennine Moors Special Protection Area, an internationally important site for birds.

The Brontë Society Council’s chairwoman, Sally McDonald, said: “This decision by Bradford Council in respect of the single turbine in Oxenhope gives support to the Brontë Society’s argument that this is a special and unique landscape and that this landscape needs to be protected.

“Visitors journey from around the world to see the wild moors of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and want to see high waving heather, not high waving turbines. I am delighted by this decision and that all future applications will have to take into account ‘the importance of the historical and literary associations’ of the area’.”

The Brontë Society has staunchly opposed a series of applications for turbines above the newly-revamped museum in the Brontë Parsonage over the past year. Last November, the society suffered a crushing defeat when Calderdale Council voted in favour of allowing turbines twice the height of Nelson’s Column to be built on the moors four miles away at Ovenden. Energy giant E.ON won a planning battle to upgrade the two-decade-old Ovenden Moor Wind Farm by pensioning off the existing turbines and replacing them with ones more than twice as tall.

The Brontë Society has admitted defeat on that front, but its hopes of halting more turbines across the brooding skyline have been boosted by the guidance from Bradford Council’s planners.

The next major threat is a scheme for four 328ft high turbines next to a hugely popular tourist trail through the moor which inspired Emily Brontë .

The £12m scheme by green energy firm Banks Renewables would see two turbines flanking each side of the Brontë Way on Thornton Moor.

The firm has been granted permission for a test mast – which was supposed to be in place by the end of last year but has not been put up yet – to pave the way for the full scheme.

But Mrs McDonald believes the planning agenda has now changed and developers may have no choice but to back down.

The Brontë Society’s heritage and conservation officer, Christine Went, welcomed the council’s decision and maintained turbines were undermining the area’s natural beauty.