Wind turbine threat looms over Menston – literally!

A Planning Application is pending (through Leeds City Council) for the construction of a 74 metre-high (245 ft.) wind turbine on the high land behind High Royds Hall.

The proposed site is adjacent to the quarry, between Hawksworth village, Tranmere Park (Guiseley) and High Royds, and sits just below The Odda. The area enjoys Special Landscape Area status and such is the elevation of the moorside that the erection of a turbine of such height would lead to its domination of the entire landscape, and the turbine would be visible for many miles around.  The applicant is the owner/operator of the quarry, and it is rumoured that this one turbine is a test case, with a further SIX to follow if this Application is successful.

For residents of Menston, this is yet another threat to our visual amenity, notwithstanding the fact that the site is just over the Leeds/Bradford local authority boundary line. That didn’t prevent Leeds City Council proceding to allow the construction of 600 dwellings on the former High Royds Hospital site, so we can’t be complacent about it. There can be no doubt that this turbine, if constructed, would dominate the horizon to the east of Menston and, if that was to lead to a total of seven being contstructed, that’s all you’d see!

There is great controversy about the energy efficiency of wind turbines. Of course, they only generate electricity when the wind blows, and that’s why they’re positioned on the highest land, to catch the wind. Even so, many in favour of them argue the ‘green’ case, perhaps overlooking the enormous cost of manufacturing them, erecting them and subsequently maintaining them. When they work, they generate electricity at low cost, but most of the time they generate nothing! The claim that they’re 30% efficient when the wind blows is counter-balanced by the claim that, if the wind is only strong enough on 10% of occasions, they’re actually only 3% efficient in generating energy. Some people think they are majestic, whilst others consider them a blight on what is – and should remain – an unblemished landscape.

WARD’s concern relates to the effect on our green and natural landscape, which we believe to be detrimentally affected by constructing these mechanisms, particularly on higher land which makes them visible for many miles.  If you ever drive up the M74 into Scotland, the visual intrusion onto the moorland is a classic example.  We also don’t subscribe, on the evidence available to us, to the view that they are efficient: maybe they DO generate power in a less polluting manner than fossil fuels, but that doesn’t of itself make them efficient or suggest they should proliferate.

No environmental impact? Photo courtesy of The Telegraph.

No environmental impact? Photo courtesy of The Telegraph.

WARD has been challenged by the Wharfedale Branch of Friends of the Earth to revise this post and adopt their view that wind turbines are beneficial. We can’t do that, as our beliefs are honestly stated on the basis of the scientific evidence we’ve read. However, we recognise that other groups have different views, which they’re equally entitled to express so, if you want an alternative opinion, look up the Friends of the Earth website.

Leeds City Council will be taking representations on the Planning Application, and you can hgave your say at planning@leeds.gov.uk or dec@leeds.gov.uk. If you choose to object, you will need to give your details log them against the Application No. 12/01233/FU.  You can find out more by accessing a valuable website at www.savethedales.co.uk and, if you feel strongly enough about this, register your support at menstonturbine@hotmail.co.uk.

Alan Elsegood

Chairman, Menston Community Association, and Secretary of WARD