Wind farm opponents vow to keep fighting as plans are delayed

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CAMPAIGNERS have vowed to continue their fight against a controversial wind farm after plans for the multi-million pound development suffered another setback.

The green energy firm Banks Renewables is behind the proposed wind farm at Copmanthorpe, on the outskirts of York, which has sparked a wave of opposition.

The company announced yesterday that it was delaying the plans to obtain clearer guidance on renewable energy development in a long-term planning blueprint, called the Core Strategy, which York Council is drawing up. The move comes after York Council’s planning committee rejected a planning application in June for a test wind mast on the site, despite the fact that it had been recommended for approval by the authority’s officers.

Opponents yesterday welcomed the latest delay, and warned Banks Renewables that they would be watching the company’s “every move”.

The Copmanthorpe Wind Farm Action Group’s secretary, Alan Davidson, who has lived in the village with his wife Dorothy for the past 20 years, revealed nearly 2,000 signatures have been collected on a petition against the scheme.

He added: “It is heartening to hear that there has been another delay, but the fight does not stop here.

“The wind farm is simply not wanted.

“We will be watching every move of Banks Renewables, and hopefully common sense will prevail and the proposals are abandoned completely.”

The Banks Group’s environment and community director, Mark Dowdall, admitted the latest delay is “far from ideal” and expressed disappointment over the council’s refusal to grant permission for the test mast.

He added: “We remain confident that this is a well thought-out and sensibly-sited scheme that has the potential to both make a major contribution to low carbon energy generation in North Yorkshire, and to also bring a range of economic, employment, environmental and community benefits to the local area.”

The development would see as many as five 475ft turbines, each costing £2.5m, built on land owned by Askham Bryan College to generate enough electricity each year to power about 8,300 homes. The scheme would see a partnership evolved with the college to train students for careers in the wind farm industry.

A full planning application for the wind farm had initially been due to be submitted to York Council by the end of this year, although the process has now been delayed until the Core Strategy is published.

The document will act as a reference point for development for the next 20 years, and will contain updated policies on the criteria on which planning applications for renewable energy schemes will be assessed.