Residents are rejoicing after a planning application to erect giant wind turbines on the Pennine hills above Todmorden was turned down by Calderdale councillors.
The proposals by Kelda Water Services would have seen four three-blade turbines towering between 360 - 390 feet (110 and 125-metres) high near Gorpley Reservoir, off Bacup Road.
The towers themselves at Inchfield Moor - managed by sister company Yorkshire Water - would be 259 feet (79 metres) tall - almost as high as Wainhouse Tower in Halifax - and dominate the skyline above the town.
Calderdale Council planning chiefs refused the application on the grounds that Gorpley wind farm would have “significant, adverse landscape and visual effects” on landscape character at High Moorland Plateaux, Calder valley, South Pennines heritage area, Todmorden and wider Calderdale views.
The meeting at Halifax Town Hall heard in addition to existing surrounding wind farms the development would create a 4.3-mile “long line” of turbines, of Todmorden Moor, Reaps Moss, Crook Hill and Scout Moor, which would “appear almost unbroken from many viewpoints.”
Resident Stephen Bottomley, whose property is opposite Inchfield Moor and closest to the proposed wind farm, told Calderdale Council’s planning committee: “The giant towers will tower over us, dominating our home and lives. The effects of the proposal would create an unacceptable change not just for our lives, but for those of our neighbours, walkers and visitors if it were approved.”
He complained that he and other residents would suffer from noise and blade flicker as well as a loss of visual amenity.
“We and other Clough Foot residents choose to live in this quaint beautifully rugged little hamlet for its tranquility, serenity and unspoilt natural beauty - if planning was granted it would have a severe detrimental impact on how we feel about the place we live,” said Mr Bottomley.
The meeting heard there was 85 letters of objection highlighting concerns including the effects of wildlife and the loss of peat from the ancient peat bog site along with the release of carbon dioxide as a result of construction work and disturbance.
Todmorden’s Astronomy Centre also raised concerns that existing neighbouring wind farms were already having a direct visual impact on observational astronomy and claimed additional turbines would effect the centre’s work.
The resubmitted application, which included a reduction to the total number of turbines from five to four, was reportedly too similar to the previously refused application, according to council planning officials.
The location and the fundamental nature of the proposed development was unchanged and the resubmitted scheme did not address the landscape, visual and cumulative issues raised previously, councillors heard.
But Kelda Water Services representative Paul Kelly told the committee: “Yorkshire Water provides services to four million people and businesses across its region. Processes are energy intensive. Our current annual energy bill stands at around £50 million and is forecast to increase as costs rise as a result of demand and insecurity of supply. Growing costs and demand provides a genuine threat to business operations and customer bills.
“We own the land at Gorpley and are looking to harness the excellent wind resource available at the site. Based on the two years of wind data collected from onsite anemometry masts, the wind farm alone would produce more than four per cent of Yorkshire Water’s annual electricity demand, taking our total self-generated renewable energy to almost 20 per cent of our total needs.”
In support of the application Calderdale Friends of the Earth representative Anthony Rae said: “Gorpley would contribute 15,500 tonnes; around 40 per cent of one year’s reduction towards Calderdale’s challenging target of a 40 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.”
Mr Rae said the committee should approve the application because it would not cause significant or adverse impacts to the landscape.
Speaking after the meeting residents weclomed the result but say they were cautious and prepared that it may not be the end of the matter.
They vowed to continue to fight against the application.
A spokesperson for Kelda Water said: “Naturally, we are disappointed that planning permission was refused and we will be examining the reasons for refusal in detail.
“We expect to be in a position to make a decision on our next steps by the end of November.”