The development appears to fly in the face of both “saved” and emerging policies, principally that it does not accord with saved local plan policy RE1 Wind Turbine Development. In this regard, the scheme has done little to limit its potential impact on the Yorkshire Wolds landscape, which is also of recognised national and regional significance (PolicyENV10 - Landscape - Yorkshire and Humber Plan - 2008).
In addition, the scheme fails to preserve the character and setting of surrounding listed buildings and Conservation Areas; to limit impact on residential amenity of adjacent properties (either during construction or once in operation); has failed to avoid unacceptable impact on public rights of way and the public highway (during construction) and will have adverse effects on the local ecology and ornithology of the site and surrounding area.
These requirements appear to have been ignored by the applicants as follows:
• The proposal would directly and profoundly affect an Area of High Landscape Value (policy ENV3) which states: “Within these areas, development which would materially detract from the scenic quality of the landscape will be resisted...also, large scale development will oly be permitted where it can clearly be demonstrated that the proposal would have significant economic or social benefits, is incapable of being located outside the Area of High Landscape Value and is designed to do as little damage to the environment as possible.” Not only would the proposed development materially detract from the scenic quality of the area, but the Applicants have failed to demonstrate that there are no other suitable locations, indicating that they do not appreciate the extreme sensitivity of the landscape (and its regional designation).
• The development would impact on the character and setting of two listed buildings and at least 14 Scheduled Ancient Monuments as well as archaeological remains dating back to Neolithic times;
• The development would impact on three to five properties in close proximity to the site, most notably in the form of shadow flicker. No mitigation has - so far - been put forward to limit such impact;
• At least one public footpath would have to be diverted during construction. In addition, there are a number of highways concerns relating to the steep, narrow local roads and small, peaceful villages, which large numbers of HGVs (each carrying heavy, bulky plant) will have to navigate during construction of the wind farm.
- As a backdrop to the above highways issue, permission has been turned down in the past for using Whitegates Road for HGVs. The Highways agency and police initially refused permission to a local farmer to haul his own produce with a HGV, on the grounds that Whitegates wasn’t suitable for HGVs, the verges were too soft and there weren’t enough passing places. The license was later granted, on appeal, but only on condition that the farmer didn’t use this particular road and only operated one truck, purely for his own goods. The wind farm proposal would result in 8794 HGV movements o these unclassified roads.
• Both the site and surrounding area is home to Great Crested Newts, badgers and brown hares in addition to seasonal birds, such as finches and golden plovers. Despite the scale and number of proposed turbines, the applicants have proffered the conclusion that the gigantic upheaval related to construction and the permanent noise, flicker and danger of the whirring blades, will “not be significant” in its effect on such species. At the very least, the applicants should be required to provide mitigation measures or be encouraged to look for more suitable sites.
In terms of statutory objectors to the scheme, English Heritage has raised the following objection:
“The Vale of Pickering is significant for the diversity and continuity of its heritage assets. The Vale and its fringe of upland to the north and south contains an unparalleled collection of buried intact prehistoric and later landscapes and structures, standing earthworks and ruins, a distinctive landscape and extensive vernacular architecture...We consider the proposed wind farm would alter the way the landscape is experienced and read…The setting of numerous heritage assets would be harmed...There is no evidence in the application that other, less damaging sites or methods of power generation have been explored, in accordance with policy HE1.2 of PPS5.”
In addition to English Heritage's objection, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has also objected, stating:
“The developers could hardly have chosen a site with a more negative impact on the landscape if that had been their intention. ..The turbines will be visible from the top of Rosedale, from Ravenscar, from Flamborough Head, from a large area of the Wolds in the East Riding and from much of Ryedale and the south of Scarborough District.”
The Ministry of Defence has also raised concerns about the scheme, warning the council that the turbines would cause “...unacceptable interference” to the radar system at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.
"Trials carried out in 2005 concluded that wind turbines can have detrimental effects on the operation of radar which include the desensitisation of radar in the vicinity of the turbines and the creation of ‘false’ aircraft returns. In addition, the same trial found that probability of the radar detecting aircraft flying over or in the vicinity of the turbines would be reduced and that the RAF would be unable to provide full air surveillance service in the area of the proposed wind farm.” The MoD’s strongest objection is that the Early Warning radar station at Staxton Wold would be adversely affected by the proposal. On similar grounds, the MoD has already prevented a wind farm at Thixendale, which is considerably further away.
An objection on safety grounds has also been received from the operator of a nearby airfield who believes that the development would cause a hazard to not only his civilian users but also police, air ambulance and coastguard search and rescue aircraft. The Applicants state that there are only two private airfields within 10km although there are in fact six, all of whose users may be endangered by the proposed development. The applicants state that the development will have little effect on the two airfields that they acknowledge- an assertion they are ill-qualified to make and one which is in direct contradiction of at least two airfield operators within the specified 10km.
Further environmental damage may be caused by the (as yet undiscussed) infrastructural requirements for delivering electricity from the turbines to the grid. At present, electricity is only delivered in the opposite direction. Will new cables and pylons be required?
A valid question has been raised by some local people regarding the cost of decommissioning the turbines when their lifetime has been exhausted in 25 years. Will this cost fall upon the Applicant or upon the taxpayer?
The photomontages presented by the Applicant to the council and to the public are clearly misleading, portraying the turbines as wispy, wraith-like structures on a grey background. Even the most cursory investigation of similar developments demonstrates that the turbines would have a far more striking effect on the skyline that that portrayed. A more realistic portrayal should be commissioned as a matter of urgency.
To date, 24 parish councils from areas affected by the wind farm have lodged objections.