Turbines are still fuelling a heated debate

Ganto,John Green views the wind turbines on the Wolds. .Picture Richard Ponter 131153a
Ganto,John Green views the wind turbines on the Wolds. .Picture Richard Ponter 131153a

Love them or hate them, you can’t ignore the fact that wind turbines are becoming a more common sight in our area and further afield.

These power generators are seen by some as beacons of a cleaner, eco friendly future.

However, others believe that - depending on where they are - they are a blot on the landscape and will ruin the beauty of our heritage coast and countryside.

Turbines seem to have the power to polarise communities and individuals alike, with most people keen to offer up their own viewpoint.

With this in mind, I spoke to a local wind turbine supporter, a campaigner who has objected to many turbines in the name of countryside protection and a planning official, to find out more about the issue and why it can cause such passion on both sides.

John Green, of Ganton, believes that wind turbines are the best solution available when it comes to producing renewable energy.

Through his work in plant hire and consultancy, particularly with lifting equipment, he has gained an insider view of nuclear power stations and is passionate about finding alternatives for the future.

Mr Green explained that in the next 10 years, we are going to use 30 per cent more electricity than we do now.

He added that we are only currently producing 45 per cent of what we need and the other 55 per cent is being imported - at a cost - from other countries.

Mr Green said: “Things need to change. If not, we will see more problems coming around in industry.

“Some big companies are spending £5,000 a day on electricity and farms are spending up to £250,000 a year.

“There is a relevant need for these turbines. We need to think about the future when it comes to energy.

“Energy bills are taking up so much of people’s money, it will end up making some businesses inviable.”

Wind turbines are a hot topic of conversation in both the farming and business communities, according to Mr Green.

He said tensions can often run high when applications are made, with some local farmers even having had their round bales slashed.

He continued: “Some ill informed people think that farmers will just stick a turbine up and start making a fortune.

“But the reality is that the average cost is around £250,000 and it will take about eight years to make that back.

“A lot of investment, time and effort goes into it.”

Mr Green accepts that turbines can sometimes be seen for miles around, but argues that they are necessary and that their impact on the area is minimal.

He said: “People say it will affect tourism, but tourists don’t come to look at farm fields, Plus, the only damage a turbine can cause is if it falls over.”

A different view is held by David Hinde, of Bempton Village, who is a regular objector against wind turbine applications.

Mr Hinde says the reason he and other like-minded people often object is purely down to protecting the local environment and landscape.

He explained: “The Heritage Coast is a highly prized area in landscape terms and should be protected.

“The problem is, once one or two are granted in an area, all the surrounding landowners say we want one too.”

Mr Hinde also believes that money is driving people’s desire for wind turbines, not the environment.

He said: “Financial subsidiaries are available on wind turbines. One of 150ft can get subsidiaries of £120,000 to £130,000 per year.”

Mr Hinde also makes it clear that wind turbine campaigners are not against renewable energy, but believe that people should be considering other forms.

He said: “Solar panels, which people could install, do not have the same impact. Certainly, in my opinion, people would not be objecting on solar applications.”

Mr Hinde has in fact written in support of solar panels at the RSPB at Bempton Cliffs.

He said: “Turbine applications are coming in thick and fast and I do think the beauty of the area is something we need to preserve.

“The Wolds are being destroyed. You only need to go the other side of Kilham and you get turbine corridors.

“It’s not just a case of ‘I’m going to see it from my window so I’m going to object’.”

Cllr Jane Mortimer, chairman of Scarborough Council’s planning and development committee, is seeing more and more applications coming in for wind turbines. She also expects the number of applications to continue to rise.

Cllr Mortimer said: “It’s mainly farms at the moment wanting to supplement their energy costs. I’m neither for or against - they just have to be in the right place.”

She explained that planning officials will look at the height, where it will sit in the landscape and proximity and impact on neighbours, among other factors.

Cllr Mortimer added: “If people are close to the Heritage Coast or National Park they can have problems. It needs to be right for where it’s going to go.”