Concern over North Oxford turbine plan

From left, Don Manley, Bob Williams, Tim Green, Ian Sheppard and Graham Jones

From left, Don Manley, Bob Williams, Tim Green, Ian Sheppard and Graham Jones

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Oxford Times Chief Reporter. Call me on 01865 425434

Plans are being drawn up to build a giant wind turbine in Cutteslowe Park, North Oxford.

Oxford City Council says it is ready “to dispose of” more than ten acres of land in the park to allow a turbine to be built next to the A40 as part of its bid to make Oxford a national leader in developing major wind energy schemes.

The news comes just three months after the city unveiled a scheme to build a £3m turbine, with a combined blade and tower height of 130m, on council-owned land between the Cowley Mini works and Horspath.

Residents and the Friends of Cutteslowe Park group reacted angrily to the news, accusing the council of not consulting local people.

Details of the plan were set out in a public notice placed in The Oxford Times by the council’s chief executive, Peter Sloman, asking people to submit their views by November 25.

The council wants to create wind turbines on both the northern and southern edges of the city. They would be two of the first wind energy developments to be built on council land in the UK.

Both projects would be undertaken with Partnerships for Renewables, set up by the Carbon Trust to work with the public sector.

The announcement of the plan to build a turbine near the Mini plant, across the road from the Horspath Road athletics track, stirred local opposition from residents, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and parish councillors, who feared the turbine would damage the landscape and dwarf nearby houses.

Now this second proposal is set to spark similar protests, with the Friends of Cutteslowe Park demanding to know why they have been “kept in the dark” about the turbine plan.

The chairman of the Friends, Graham Jones, said: “We should have been consulted about something that will obviously have a major impact on the park.

“Because we are interested in green, open spaces, we are environmentally conscious. But we are talking about a great deal of space being needed. At a meeting we had with parks officers just a few weeks ago nothing was mentioned.”

Friends member Suzanne McIvor added: “I am quite sympathetic to the idea of wind farms, but not spread around Oxford, spoiling the landscape.

“We do not know exactly where it would go, but it is a big area of land. It is just the same old story of the council going ahead and no one being told or consulted.

“We have all seen the turbine on the motorway near Reading which dominates the landscape.”

A spokesman for Oxford City Council said: “An advert has been placed in the local media as part of the authority's statutory responsibility to advertise the intention to dispose of an area of open space in Cutteslowe Park.

“This is pursuant to proposals to grant a possible option and lease of land to Partnerships for Renewables for the siting of a wind turbine.

“No decision to dispose of this land will be made until the advertising process is concluded.”

Cutteslowe, together with Sunnymead Park, represents the largest park in Oxford.

Last year, the Town Hall asked experts to look at four possible sites for a wind turbine, all on the edge of the city.

The other sites — along with the Horspath Road turbine — were south of Greater Leys and close to Hinksey Heights Golf Club.

The Hinksey proposal is the only one to have been officially dropped, after strong local protests.

The proposed turbine at Horspath would produce quantities of green energy equivalent to that used by 1,200 households a year.

Detailed technical and environmental work is now under way on the Horspath Road wind turbine, with the city council hoping to submit a planning application for it in 2011.

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