Windfarm plan inquiry hopes grow

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					                               Windfarm plan inquiry hopes grow
                                               Alexandra Wood

CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans for wind turbines surrounding one of Yorkshire's most important wildlife sites
have been given fresh hope of a public inquiry into the plans.
For years, environmentalists have been fighting to preserve moorland at Thorne, near Doncaster, which has
been badly damaged by peat extraction.
But they say plans to construct up to five windfarms round the internationally-protected site could damage the
peatlands irretrievably.
They are hoping North Lincolnshire Council will back its planning officials on Thursday and agree to make
what will be the first formal objection to two of the schemes.
The local authority is to be consulted by the Department of Trade and Industry on a proposed 35-turbine farm at
Keadby, and to another three turbines at Tween Bridge, which form part of a 28-turbine project.
Any formal objection by the council should automatically trigger a public inquiry.
Protesters say they are delighted by the officials' action. But they are warning that if Trade and Industry
Secretary Patricia Hewitt does eventually decide in favour of the farms, and damage is caused to the peatlands,
local taxpayers will be left a massive bill.
A 125-metre turbine installation weighs about 300 tonnes. Opponents say that to anchor one and stop it
wobbling around, in ground which varies in consistency from "custard to sponge cake", will mean drilling
down to bedrock, and no-one knows how far down it will go. Once the bedrock is penetrated, the integrity of
the wetlands may be at risk.
Campaigner Helen Kirk said: "The European Habitats Directive is quite clear. If there is monitoring and that
establishes the site is drying out, then there would have to be revocation. The developer and the landowner
would expect compensation, and that would have to come from the local taxpayer."
English Nature is concerned about the effect that the turbines will have on the hydrology of the area, and the
projects' cumulative impact on protected species.
Thorne and Hatfield Moors are Sites of Special Scientific Interest and are classed as special protection areas
under the European Birds Directive, because they support approximately two per cent of Britain's breeding
population of nightjar.
Other notable birds include nightingale, merlin, hobby, long-eared owl, and whinchat.
Of 11 parish councils, just three were in favour of the Keadby plans. Around 100 letters of objection have gone
into the local authority, with another 55 being forwarded on from the Department of Trade and Industry, against
20 who in support.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England called it an "industrial development of the kind not normally allowed
in the countryside".
Flixborough Residents Association is concerned about the appearance of the turbines on a flat landscape, saying
they will be "as high as the spire on Salisbury Cathedral".
Crowle Parish Council says the district already has three times more than its fair share of wind farms, following
the recent approval of a 16-turbine farm at Goole Fields.
They say they are determined that North Axholme and the immediate area "are not to be used as a dumping
ground for more prosperous areas' quotas".
A spokeswoman for Humberhead Against Turbines, Ann Walker, said: "Representatives of HAT recently
visited RAF Waddington where they heard first hand how the Tween Bridge windfarm would compromise
aviation safety: "If North Lincolnshire were to approve the application they may be putting the lives of local
people at risk."
The closest property to the Tween Bridge turbines will be Sunset Cottage, at Medge Hall, belonging to Peter
Mr Hart said the turbines would have a huge impact on his quality of life – as well as causing casualties
amongst the local wildlife: "I can see marsh harriers, hen harriers and plovers coming from over the moors.
They will have to fly through a forest of turbines. Birds of prey don't look where they are going – they are
looking for something to eat."
However campaigners for wind energy say onshore wind farms are, at present, the only commercially-viable
means of producing clean energy.

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