Winds of Change

SADDLEWORTH COUNCILLORS are striving to prevent the installation of wind turbines on picturesque hills which they see as a bitter blow to the landscape.

SMALL-SCALE: Similar turbines in the Scottish countryside. PICTURE: Mary and Angus Hogg
SMALL-SCALE: Similar turbines in the Scottish countryside. PICTURE: Mary and Angus Hogg

Two 15m turbines at Greenoak Farm have been approved by Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, and an application has been submitted to install two more on Harrop Edge Sandstone Quarry, Castleshaw.

But Saddleworth Parish Council said it has grown wary of the increasing number of planning applications for small scale wind turbines in the local area.

At a recent planning committee meeting, councillors recommended refusal for the Castleshaw turbines, suggesting the small amount of energy generated would not justify their presence.

However, some residents are set to benefit from cheaper electricity bills – and generate lower C02 omissions – but councillors are concerned the wider community will pay the price.

Planning committee chairman, Cllr Mike Buckley said: “Everybody at the council is very unhappy with the proliferation of these wind turbines all over Saddleworth.

‘‘Obviously the turbines must be placed on top of the hills which is the most visible place that you can put them.

‘‘The amount of energy they produce is barely enough to power an individual house and the way in which the figures are being presented is very misleading.

‘‘There are benefits towards the individual who may save some money on electricity, but the whole community will pay the penalty as we all have to look at these turbines.”

Councillors and residents have also questioned if the green energy created by the proposed turbines, with blade diameters of 15.5m, constitutes the special circumstances required to warrant their development a Green Belt location.

And Cllr Derek Heffernan was critical of the marketing language used surrounding the amount of green energy produced and greenhouse gases saved.

He told the committee: “In reality the turbines provide barely enough electricity to boil an electric kettle and certainly not enough to provide the energy requirements of a single dwelling.”

Small scale turbines have appeared on the council’s agenda for around 18 months, but momentum has recently gathered as private companies offer residents free installation in exchange for on-going repayments.

Some applications have been refused by Oldham Council, including plans for three turbines at Green Lane Farm in Strinesdale, but councillors have been left disappointed with the process.

Cllr Mike Buckley said: ‘‘Oldham council has left very little basis to refuse the development of more wind turbines, while their visual impact has been deemed irrelevant.

‘‘Having recently approved several of these turbines, they’re increasingly likely to approve more and more of them as time goes by.

‘‘The turbines have been described as ‘elegant’ by the planning inspectorate in Bristol which seems to have now been taken as precedent by Oldham council.

‘‘We feel there should be stronger planning grounds to refuse their development as unfortunately the present grounds are rather and open to subjective interpretation by the planning authorities.’’

The parish council has resolved to take up these issues with the Oldham council planning department and to lobby the Secretary of State for better guidelines.

An Oldham council spokesperson said: ‘‘Every planning application we are asked to consider are dealt with in accordance with national planning guidelines and regulations”.

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