WEST CRAVEN: Farmers bid to put more wind turbines on land

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AN increasing number of wind turbines will be built in West Craven as farmers try to counteract rising costs.

But it might not all be plain sailing, as they face opposition from residents.

In what appears to be the thin end of a wedge, four applications by farmers to build 18m wind turbines on their land with the use of bank loans were put before Pendle Council’s West Craven Committee this week.

Of the applications, two in Barnoldswick, at Brogden Hall Farm and Horrocks House Farm on Brogden Lane, and Broom House Farm on Bleara Road, Earby, were approved without objection.

Residents angry about plans for a fourth in Barnoldswick asked councillors to reject it.

As well as covering their own electricity supply, each farm would receive regular payments from energy suppliers, as well as payments for any surplus produced as part of the feed-in tariff scheme, made available by the Government on April 1st last year.

The scheme is designed to ensure that the average monthly income from the installation will be greater than monthly repayments on bank loans.

Chris Pearson from Diamond Renewables, a Skipton-based company which supplies and installs wind turbines, spoke on behalf of the farmers at the meeting.

He said his firm had seen 11 turbines successfully passed at planning meetings and has orders for 150 more, though Mr Pearson said that of the hundreds of sites he is asked to look at, only around 40% might be suitable.

He said: “The cost of electricity is increasing and it is becoming more difficult for farmers to make a living.

“The objections are all NIMBYs, people who agree with the idea of wind turbines, but don’t want them in their back yard. I can completely understand people’s concerns, but they are much smaller than the turbines you instantly think of, like the ones in Burnley and at Harrogate which are 120m high.

“At 18m high, these are not much bigger than feed towers that farms have.”

Jean Dixon, one of the objecting residents, who lives close to the proposed site for a turbine at Bentham Lodge, Ghyll Fields in Barnoldswick, said her objection was with the impact on the landscape.

She said: “With the blades on top of the tower, it is going to be at least 21m in total. It strikes me that it would not be in keeping with the general area and the environment.”

Councillors agreed to conduct a site visit before making a decision at a committee meeting on February 2nd.

Coun. Allan Buck, from Barnoldswick Town Council, expressed a worry the growing trend for wind turbines could become a problem.

He said: “I am not against turbines per se, but are we not setting a precedent in giving permission to one and having to say yes to all the others?”

Coun. Chris Tennant, who leads on planning policy in Pendle, said: “Targets set by the Government are challenging, but we need to come up with a way of meeting them in a way that is workable in Pendle.”