October 11, 2011 | Community News
An appeal against the rejection of plans for what would be the first wind farm in the Leeds Metropolitan area is set to be heard at a public inquiry this week.
Banks Renewables, part of The Banks Group is looking to make a £15million investment in the Hook Moor wind farm, which would be situated on undulating agricultural land near Garforth, close to the junction of the M1 and A1.
The inquiry, which begins on Tuesday (11 October) and which is expected to last between two and four days, is being held after a previous hearing against the rejection of the five turbine scheme by the Planning Inspectorate was found to have been judged on incorrect criteria, leading to the decision being quashed in the High Court with the agreement of all parties.
If approved, the Hook Moor wind farm would have an installed capacity of up to 10 MW, and would be able to produce enough renewable energy to meet the annual power requirements of approximately 8,000 homes.
Each turbine would produce around twice as much renewable energy in a single year as the photo-voltaic panels that were recently installed at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds will produce in their entire 25-year llfespan.
If the scheme goes ahead, it would provide a multi-million pound boost for the West Yorkshire economy through the local supply chain, with businesses able to tender for contracts during the site development and construction phases of the scheme, and also see up to 30 jobs created on site during the construction process.
In addition to this, a community benefits fund would also run alongside the wind farm, offering hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding for volunteer groups and good causes during the lifetime of the scheme, in order to provide tangible long-term benefits for the community from Banks’ presence there.
Banks originally put forward proposals for the wind farm in 2008, but they were rejected by Leeds City Council in 2009 after an objection from the Ministry of Defence concerning the scheme’s potential impact on its operational capacity in the area.
Discussions continued between the MoD and Banks in advance of an appeal being submitted in February last year, but this was in turn rejected by the Government inspector at the end of 2010.
Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, says: “The Hook Moor wind farm’s location, in a gateway area next to the motorways and in an area that does not yet have any renewable energy generation schemes of this type, would make it especially important, and if approved, it would play a key role in enabling Leeds City Council to meet its immediate and future renewables obligations.
“Projects such as the photo-voltaic installation at the Royal Armouries are very welcome and very important in themselves, but in terms of scale, the output that the Hook Moor wind farm would offer would make a far greater contribution towards increasing the amount of energy produced by renewable means in this area.
“This scheme would represent a significant capital investment by Banks in the local economy at a time when few companies are undertaking such projects, and could produce enough renewable energy to meet the annual power requirements of around 8,000 homes.
“Employment and commercial opportunities for local firms will be created in the construction phase of the scheme, and the investment going into the project would naturally provide a real boost for local shops and businesses.
“Sharing the benefits of the schemes that we operate around the country with the communities in which they are situated is part of Banks’ policy for ensuring that people living in these areas gain tangible, long-term advantages from our presence there, and this would very much be the case for Garforth and the surrounding area through the Hook Moor community benefits scheme.
“We received significant local support during the public engagement process that we have been carrying out around this scheme since 2008 for what we still believe is a well thought-out and sensibly sited project, and we are confident that the manifold benefits of this scheme will be recognised through this appeal hearing.”