Marr and Melton Wood Action Group

On Wednesday 27th September 2006, Banks Developments unveiled a plan to construct between four and seven 125m wind turbines on green-belt farm land opposite the village of Marr in South Yorkshire. This blog will chart the progress of the local movement as it fights to oppose the scheme.

15 November 2006

Public Meeting

The next public meeting will be held at 8pm on Thursday 30th Nov, Marr Lodge, Marr. Residents of Marr, Barnburgh and Harlington, High Melton, Hickleton and Sprotbrough all welcome. There will be a news update, presentation of research findings and propsed next steps in the campaign.

12 November 2006

Advice from Wind Turbine Manufacturer

Retexo, a Wind Turbine Manufacturer based in Germany recommends that Wind Turbines should not be sited within 2km of the nearest housing.

http://www.retexo.de/english/wind/seite5a.htm

All 4 of the turbines on the Banks proposal are within 2km of Marr.

Banks Proposal Down to 4 Turbines

Banks have confirmed that the proposed development will now be restricted to just 4 wind turbines, these being number 1-4 on their original plan.

This now means the distance between the nearest towers and the closest housing will be:

- Marr: 0.8km
- Barnburgh: 1.6km
- High Melton: 2.0km

Remember that the UK Noise association have recommended that Wind Turbines should be sighted at least 1 mile from the nearest residential property (see links opposite). None of the 4 turbine towers falls within this criteria.

08 November 2006

Press Release

The following text will be released to various press bodies:

"A green belt area of outstanding beauty is being targeted by developers, Banks UK, to site 4 – 7 wind turbines, each almost the size of Blackpool Tower. The area, between Marr, Hickleton and High Melton (all conservation villages to the north west of Doncaster), has been classified as ‘an area of great landscape value, worthy of special protection’ by Doncaster Council. The turbines would also decimate stunning views surrounding, Brodsworth, Sprotbrough, Pickburn and Barnburgh.

A number of footpaths and bridleways cross the designated development area, and are a joy to those who use them, particularly as there is an abundance of wildlife in the area – skylarks, red kites and a bat colony in Melton Wood the big attractions. The disruption will affect wildlife, ramblers, and cyclists, and the road and site development would bring the already congested Barnsley Road (A635) around Marr to a standstill at peak times.

Marr and Hickleton residents have waited for a road bypass for some years now, to reduce the level of traffic, danger and noise levels, but despite plans being drawn up, nothing has materialised. Now there is anger that, as well as the total disruption from construction and maintenance, the turbines will extend the noise problem, particularly in the sleeping hours. The proposed location is 800m from homes - half the minimum distance recommended by the UK Noise Association.

A wind farm here would contravene all the principles of conservation, and for people who know the area, losing this part of the Doncaster countryside is unthinkable."

British Horse Society

No less than three public bridleways run through the proposed site.

The British Horse Society (BHS) has produced an Advisory Statement (No.20) regarding the siting of Wind Farms (see link opposite). The BHS adopted a policy in 1995 which recommended a minimum distance between the base of any turbine and the nearest equestrian route, of 200m. However that distance was arrived at when the average height of proposed turbines was between 40 – 50 metres. The ones proposed by Banks are 125 metres !

The BHS notes that it is essential that a formula is identified which will calculate the minimum safe distance, based on the actual height of the turbine. (It can be assumed that if 200m was a minimum distance from a 50m turbine, then the minimum distance from a 125m turbine should be in the region of 500m.) The BHS goes on to suggest that the minimum distance should be at least three times the height of a turbine.

If this was adhered to then the turbines would not fit into the proposed site.

If the proposals went ahead regardless, then the bridleways would become unsafe and therefore unuseable, especially in the 12-18 month building phase. Developers have been known to wish to use bridleways for access to the wind farm site during the construction phase. The Society is opposed to such use.

The Society fears that the heavy vehicles use of unsurfaced routes may result in irreversible damage and planning authorities are asked to take this into account. Any permission should be subjected to specific conditions regarding maintenance and reinstatement and these should be enshrined within the planning consent.

Planning Policy Guidance Note 7 (PPG 7), The Countryside – Environmental Quality and Economic and Social Development makes a positive statement about horse riding and gives advice on the need to consider the impact of proposed developments on public rights of way (para. 3.13).

In view of this guidance the Society believes it ought to be consulted on any planning cases which may impact on equestrian use of or condition of a public rights of way.

RSPB

See opposite - link added to the RSPB web-site detailing their stance on Wind Farms. We are attempting to get the RSPB to assess the Melton Wood site and provide an official line.

07 November 2006

Scoping Responses - English Heritage, English Nature and S.Yorks Archeology

In response to Banks' Scoping Report, statutory bodies responded as follows:

English Heritage - firmly opposed
- the landscape is distinctive, pleasant and largely unspoiled
- the site lies between three sites in the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens (Brodsworth, Cusworth and Hickleton)
- the villages of Hickleton, Marr and Brodsworth contain listed Churches whose settings are likely to be effected by the windfarm proposal.

English Nature - recommend further assessment
- question the basis against which an ornithological assessment has been undertaken/is proposed
- question the impact on the bat colony at Sprotborough Gorge and suggest an impact assessment on bats is included
- recommend an assessment of the impact on protected species, particularly badgers.

South Yorkshire Archeology Service - can work with the scheme
- the area of the proposed windfarm has a high archeological potential
- a desk based assessment would need to be undertaken prior to planning application
- a field based assessment may be required
- on-site works would probably need to be closely monitored
- the scheme could be designed to be sympathetic to any acheological concerns

Scoping Report from Banks

Yesterday I received a copy of the Scoping Report submitted by Banks to Doncaster Council in July. Besides outlining the proposal, other points of interest from the report were as follows.

1. As well as the construction of the 3-7 125m turbine towers, the scheme will also require construction of:

- 1 or more electrical sub-stations;

- a single storey control building

- an electrical compound for outside transformers and switchgear

- Trenches for cables between the towers, sub-station(s) and control building

- Hardstanding areas, access roads, fences and other infrastructure

2. Connection to the national grid will be via overhead power lines. These will be subject to a separate planning application.

3. As well as the known impacts on noise, the landscape, ecology, ornithology and traffic, the report also reveals a potential electromagnetic impact on TV signals (ghosting) and communications equipment.

In the next posting, I'll cover the responses from statutory bodies consulted at the scoping stage.

Letterboxing

Over the weekend and awareness leaflet was dropped through letterboxes in Marr, Barnburgh and High Melton. A copy of the text will be posted below - watch this space.