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Turbines threat to beauty of Roaches

By MIG: Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: September 11, 2013

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A FURIOUS row is looming over a threat to one of the Staffordshire Moorlands most iconic landscapes.

Two planning applications have been submitted to erect two wind turbines around the scenic area of the Roaches, which sits alongside the A53 Leek to Buxton Road and attracts thousand of tourists every year.

The applications have been received for a 50kw turbine at Old Hay Top Farm, Swythamley near Rushton Spencer and another at Higher Wetwood Farm, Meerbrook.

Both turbines would have an overall height to blade tip of 34.2 metres (112 feet).

The Roaches estate has recently been leased to Staffordshire Wildlife Trust from the Peak District National Park Authority.

Kate Dewey, planning and conservation officer at Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: "Staffordshire Wildlife Trust is aware of the situation and is currently consulting with other authorities to asses any possible wildlife impacts.

"The Trust will continue to work hard to ensure the Roaches is a place where wildlife thrives and is a fantastic place for people to visit."

A spokesman for campaigners, who are vowing to fight the proposals, said: "We are now going to organise a campaign to fight and save The Roaches landscape which is the Moorlands’ Jewel in the Crown and is an area people are very passionate about.

"We are in the process of getting flyers and posters printed and we urge people to object to these proposals by going on to the Peak Park's planning website or write to the authority.

"The Roaches brings in tourism for the Moorlands and Peak Park, so people of the area have got to help to protect this unique area.

"The area is seen on many photographs for promotional literature and on television.

“If these two turbines are given the go-ahead more applications will be received and the Roaches landscape will never be the same again."

Author and historian Doug Pickford's family have lived in the area for more than 400 years.

Mr Pickford said: "The Roaches has got to be protected as an area of outstanding natural beauty "I am not against wind turbines where they are not obtrusive, as we have had electric pylons for years.

"However, the landscape of the Roaches is too important and also the area brings in many tourists to the Moorlands."

A design and access statement supporting the applications has been produced on behalf of the two applicants, David Swinson and Messrs J C and M E Moss and Son, by Bagshaws.

With regard to Old Hay Top Farm, which has a 160 herd and Higher Wetwood which has 340 milking cows, Bagshaws state: "The turbines are proposed to produce electricity to supply the farm house and buildings and more particularly the dairy farming operations.

“The turbine installation is considered to have no visual or other negative impact on either the environment or local residents.

"Due to the pressure on milk prices and increased competition it is vital that the dairy farming businesses can benefit from the economies of trade wherever possible.

"As the farm will be able to produce electricity significantly more cheaply than the current cost of procurement then the running costs of the farming business will be greatly reduced.

“This will not only have financial benefits, but will also improve the environment with reduced reliance on fossil fuel produced power."

A decision is expected on both applications within the next six to eight weeks by the Peak District National Park Authority.

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