Hartlepool split over plans for gigantic 570ft wind turbines

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A TOWERING row has erupted after three wind turbines measuring a gigantic 574ft were recommended for approval.

The turbines, which would be 56ft higher than Blackpool Tower and could be seen five miles away, have sparked a huge weight of protest.

They are earmarked for approval by planning officers at Hartlepool Borough Council.

Ahead of a meeting set to be held tomorrow to decide on the plans, a petition and 439 letters of objection have been lodged to the council as residents show their outrage.

But the green plans have also attracted significant backing with a total of 729 letters of support sent to the local authority.

Applicant Mark Whitehead is seeking planning permission from the council to put up three turbines in Hartlepool.

They are for one each at Tofts Road West industrial estate, Graythorp Industrial Estate near Seaton Carew and one on land at Brenda Road West Industrial Estate.

Each turbine would have a maximum height of 574ft from base to tip and could be seen from up to five miles away.

The proposed height is less than was originally envisaged at 677ft.

The applications, developed in conjunction with The Energy Workshop consultants, also include plans for combined substations and site offices.

Among the objections are claims the turbines will be the largest in Europe and will severely affect people in Seaton Carew and “destroy the landscape views of thousands of people in surrounding towns and in County Durham.”

Others say they are too large given their location near housing, claim they are inefficient and that they should be offshore.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England and Durham Bird Club are also among objectors to the plans.

But those in favour say green technology should be encouraged, the turbines will create jobs and believe a limited number of large turbines are better than a lot of small ones.

Referring to the Tofts Road West application, council officers state: “It is clear that within the immediate industrial area within which it is sited, the turbine given it’s height and proximity will have a somewhat overwhelming impact in terms of its prominence as is the case with all turbines.”

But they go on to say: “However, the proposal would not have an unacceptable cumulative impact or be unacceptable in terms of its impact on the amenity of neighbours.”

It is said the Tofts Road turbine would be able to supply electricity equivalent to the average demand of up to 4,833 households, equivalent to 11.8 per cent of the population of Hartlepool.

It would also cut the carbon footprint 9,520 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year, or 285,600 tonnes over a 30 year operating lifetime.

In an environmental statement the developers state: “Onshore wind is by far the cheapest large-scale renewable energy source that can be deployed at a significant scale.

“Investment in wind can play a major part in the low-carbon economy.”

They add the area would benefit from developer contributions to a community benefit fund worth up to £56,250 per year, or £1,687,500 over a turbine’s 30 year operating lifetime.

The document in support of the Tofts Road scheme added: “The development of the project will bring with it a demand for construction materials and related employment within the surrounding area.

“Local companies could benefit from the construction of the project through tendering for contracts worth around £2.25m.”