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War of the Turbines on Ovenden Moor and Thornton Moor

Yorkshire Windpower have applied to remove the 23 existing 48m turbines on Ovenden Moor, and replace them with 9 larger turbines of 115m in height.

Some of you may be inclined to say ‘so what, they’ve been there for years’, but before you do, you need to understand that if we are to win the fight against Banks Renewables for Thornton Moor, we cannot allow over development as far as wind energy is concerned.

The current 23 turbines are no longer classed as large industrial wind turbines, as the recent planning application by Keelham Hall Farm Shop proved when they applied for a 46m ‘medium’ scale wind turbine for their business. Hence it is unreasonable to see the repowering of Ovenden Moor in the same light just because a windfarm has stood their for 20 years previous.

Most of us already know the issues associated with industrial wind turbines, as we have been discussing it for the last 2 years believe it or not. Yes, it was June 2010 that Banks Renewables came to our village and threw our lives upside down. So on that note, I will not preach too much about these issues for the time being.

What I would like to focus on first of all is the damage to the moorland, and how the new plans are attempting to ignore the original planning conditions set out by the Department of the Environment in their letter dated 2nd July 1992, in which they categorically state:-

“in the event of the permanent decommissioning of any part of the wind-farm… the site shall be restored to its former moorland condition…”

However, it has been made very clear that Yorkshire Windpower have no intention to carry out their obligation in this respect. Instead, they are proposing to leave the turbine bases in situ after removing the actual turbines, and cover the them with topsoil!!! We suspect that this is mainly due to the costs involved, however, they are claiming that the “The environmental effects of this approach are considered to be less than those arising from the break up and removal of access track and turbine foundations from the site.”

Needless to say, this is the approach they have said they will take in another 25 years when the new wind farm has expired. However, local people need to stand up for the moorland and say NO!!! Its is not acceptable. Yorkshire Windpower should be forced to remove the old concrete bases, and if the land is as sensitive as they claim (and we know it is), then further development should not be allowed to go ahead. It’s that simple!

Yorkshire Windpower say that the terms of the decommissioning comes under the conditions of the last planning consent, which it does, and that this will be agreed once they have their new planning permissions and the old turbines have been decommissioned. However, why should they be given permission to inject another 35,000 tonnes of concrete into the moorland before we know what is definitely going to happen to the existing concrete?

If the matter of reinstating the moorland is down to the costs, then we would urge everyone to suggest that the developer is made to pay a decommissioning bond to ensure the security of our moorland for the future. This money is held securely so regardless of who the owner of the windfarm is, or what happens to the company, the money will always be available to carry out remedial works to the site if removing the turbines.

So what if the turbines are not as efficient as the new modern replacements that are now available on the market? Replacing these turbines will not benefit anyone in this area. However we can guarantee you this; the windfarm owner will make a killing on the subsidies they will claim from this windfarm, and it will be all of you that have to bear the costs in your electricity bills. FACT.

So, back to the turbines bases. The old bases are remaining in situ according to the application. What about the new turbines? What will they sit on? The developer has said that ‘each turbine will have a new concrete pad (foundation)’ constructed. From the dimensions provided in the scoping report (25m x 25m x 2.6m) each ‘pad’ will require 3,900 tonnes of concrete, meaning over 35,000 tonnes for the whole development.

So on the subject of CO2, did you know that according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCS www.WBCSD.org), concrete is the most widely used material on earth apart from water, with nearly three tonnes used annually for each man, woman, and child. For every tonne of concrete manufactured, it releases 150kg of Co2. Therefore, Ovenden Moor Windfarm Alone will be responsible for over 5 million kg of CO2 before its even turned a rotor blade.

On the subject of noise, according to Appendices 7.2 of the environmental statment, The noise from the turbines on Ovenden Moor will be heard in the area of Thornton Moor above normal background noise at night time. Not good for the rural homes at Denholme Gate that back directly onto this very moorland.

There is the issue surrounding the designation of the land surrounding the windfarm site. It was designated as a SSSI after construction of the windfarm back in the 90′s. We all know how important this site it to the Ornithological wildlife. It’s used for feeding and breeding by many birds, rare and otherwise. I am not sure how such large scale, destructive work can be carried out without it having a detrimental effect on the SSSI habitat.

Last but not least, we need to look at the impact these turbines will have on this South Pennines landscape. Within volume 1 of the Environmental Statement, section 6.7.28, it states ‘Of the Landscape Character Areas offering potential views of the Ovenden Moor Repower, the areas occurring in the immediate vicinity of the wind farm would incur significant effects. These include the eastern side of the part of the High Moor Plateau identified in the SCOSPA LCA, within which the proposed development would be located. Here there would be significant effects on landscape character from the Repower Wind Farm considered on its own and cumulatively with the existing single turbine at Naylor Hill Quarry and the scoping stage Thornton Moor development.’ I don’t think I need to say any more. Please remember that Ovenden Moor is 425m above sea level. When you consider that the A629 Halifax Road in Denholme Gate is only 324m above sea level, that is 100m difference in height of the land alone. Add the 115m turbine height and what do you get??? As an example, the existing turbines can be seen from town centre locations such as Barkerend Road in Bradford as it is only 150m above sea level and has a direct view up to Denholme.

Whilst I haven’t been able to read and digest ALL of the planning documents, I have come across Appendix 13.1 dated Nov 2007 based on the old planning application of 2009 which was withdrawn… I would therefore question is this and other data still valid?

The above issues are the main grounds on which we can object. If Calderdale are to work with their document http://www.rochdale.gov.uk/PDF/2010-04-14_LDF_Land_Cap_Study_Wind_Energy_Dev_South_Pennines_Jan_2010.pdf I would draw everyone’s attention to table 5 on page 19 which shows clearly that any landscape has a saturation point as far as wind turbines are concerned. Once a landscape gets as far as the ‘change’ stage, the fight could be lost, and it would be fair to say that with all the turbine development in this area at the moment, we are fast approaching this stage. Once we are there, there is no going back. Thornton Moor Windfarm will then also be seen to be acceptable because it would make no difference if the landscape had already been transformed to a windfarm landscape.

Thanks for reading this email. This one had to be long winded to explain fully what our concerns are. It should also give you some good ideas for objecting to the proposals.

The closing date for objections in 13th September. Objections have been received from as far away as Scotland, Wales and Japan so far! Please Click here to see the planning application and register your comments.

In the meantime, please circulate this information far and wide as we need people to be aware of the truth behind this planning application.

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