Wind farm site put to test

52ft-high mast will sample atmospheric conditions

Emma Dunlop

QUESTIONS over the viability of a proposed wind farm in the East Riding will be answered with the installation of a test mast to measure atmospheric conditions.

E.ON UK, the company that runs Powergen, wants to develop a site at Pollington to accommodate 15 turbines, each 125m high.

The firm, which is under fire for wind farm plans elsewhere in the region, has been given permission by East Riding of Yorkshire Council for a 52m temporary mast to measure wind speeds at the site, south of West Cowick and east of Pollington.

The site, referred to as Aire and Calder, was identified following a search across the East Riding area involving year-round bird studies in close liaison with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to assess any ornithological issues

E.ON UK already owns and operates three wind farms in Yorkshire – at Out Newton next to Easington, at Ovenden Moor close to Wainstalls and Royd Moor near Penistone.

Project developer Alex Fornal added: "We firmly believe that Aire and Calder is an excellent site for a wind farm and this mast will give us the hard data we need to realise the site's potential."

The move comes as campaigners claim they have not been given the chance to comment over changes to E.ON's controversial plans for 22 giant wind turbines on fields next to the Thorne Moors National Nature Reserve near Doncaster. Each turbine would stand 328ft tall.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England has blasted what it says is "backdoor" consultation on changes to the scheme.

In January, after the plans were called in for a public inquiry, E.ON submitted a "revised" planning statement which the CPRE says changes much of the original application. It now proposes 22 turbines, instead of the original 28, but in a different layout.

The CPRE claims most interested groups will be unaware of the changes as neither the Department of Trade and Industry nor Doncaster Council has re-consulted the original objectors.

Andy Tickle, head of planning and campaigning at CPRE South Yorkshire, said: "This really looks like planning by the backdoor.

"We're very concerned that many of those that objected to the original plans will have their efforts invalidated because they haven't commented on the new, amended plans. This could be a serious spoke in the wheel for the forthcoming public inquiry."

CPRE is asking everyone who commented on the original application to write again to planners to let them know their views.

Paul Hunt, E.ON Renewables Project Developer, said the revision was a direct response to the views of the council and local community.

"We've always believed this is an excellent site for a wind farm and now our further environmental studies, looking at birds and visual impact, have reinforced this belief."

The company is also embroiled in controversy over a separate application for 15 turbines beside the village of Sykehouse, near Doncaster.

Villagers claimed they had not been consulted about the plans and instead villages in East Yorkshire were asked their views.

The move, which E.ON insisted was an "oversight", prompted the belief that residents had been deliberately kept in the dark

Plans are also under discussion for at least 21 wind farms on and around the Humberhead Levels near Scunthorpe, including two full planning applications at Tween Bridge and Keadby. Further plans are also on the cards for Goole Fields, Twin Rivers, Rusholme, Elsham and Flixborough.

Residents are calling for all the applications to be heard in one big public inquiry, rather than piecemeal.

E.ON UK will be holding public exhibitions on the Pollington bid, at the Snaith Sports Hall between July 26 and 28, to highlight community benefits. If approved, the company says its scheme could cut the emission of 70,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.