Wind farm plans back on agenda

A WIND FARM proposed for the outskirts of Leeds that was thrown out last year could be back on the agenda again after the firm behind the plans announced it was appealing.

The developer says the wind farm on green belt land at near Micklefield, to the east of Leeds, would provide enough renewable energy to power more than 8,000 homes.

But last year Leeds City Council threw out the Hook Moor scheme after an objection by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which feared the turbines could play havoc with the Royal Air Force's radar network.

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Opponents of the proposal say it is too close to people's homes.

Now Banks Developments wants to revive its plans, which would consist of five turbines, each reaching a height of 125 metres.

It says talks have been going on for the past 12 months between the aviation and wind farm industries to try to find a way they can coexist.

Last night a spokesman for Banks Developments said it now planned to lodge an appeal against the council's refusal and it is proposed the application will now be heard before a planning inspector.

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It is hoped the appeal will be heard before the end of the year.

The proposed site for the development, which would be the first of its type in the Leeds metropolitan area, lies on undulating land near the junction of the M1 and A1.

Last night the renewables projects director at Banks Developments, Rob Williams, said: "The Wind Industry and Aviation Stakeholders have taken great steps over the last 12 months towards finding solutions to allow wind farms to coexist with existing aviation uses.

"This scheme's location, in a gateway area next to the motorways and in an area that does not yet have any renewable energy generation, would make it especially important, and it would play a key role in enabling Leeds City Council to meet its immediate and future renewables obligations."

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The application divided opinion, with people and organisations speaking for and against the proposal.

Supporters said the wind farm would cut the city's carbon footprint and help it meet the Government's sustainable energy targets.

There was extensive consultation over the scheme and the council received 2,300 representations about the proposal when it was considered last year , with 1,455 in favour and 845 against the plans.

A planning officials' report that went to the city council's east plans panel last July acknowledged the sensitive layout of the Banks scheme and the benefits of the turbines, but refusal was recommended because of the MoD's objection.

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The report considered by members said: "Ministry of Defence (Defence Estates) consider that the proposed development would cause significant interference and obscuration to the Precision Approach Radar used at RAF Church Fenton and at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

"They consider that the perceived interference poses a significant safety risk to civilian pilots and military air crew – including student pilots- flying in the area of the proposed wind farm and at RAF Church Fenton in particular."

Squadron leader Gavin Pattinson, of the Ministry of Defence (MoD), told the meeting: "Turbines have been shown to create a loss of radar coverage."

He said the movement of the blades could also create "false" aircraft on the radar.

The chairman of Micklefield Parish Council, John Crossley, said the turbines would have an impact on both Micklefield and Lotherton Hall's gardens.