Friday, 17 August 2012

Threat to Brontë Moors


E.On, trading as Yorkshire Wind Power Ltd, have now submitted an application for planning permission to repower Ovenden Moor Wind Farm.  The 23 turbines currently in use and visible from parts of Haworth and the moorlands will, if the application succeeds, be replaced by nine structures 115m high.  At such a height they would, potentially, be visible from as far afield as Harrogate, Wetherby and Tadcaster, places over 35km distant.  Seen from Top Withens, they would appear enormous, and would dominate the whole landscape. 

In accordance with the Brontë Society’s heritage and conservation policy, an objection to the application has been submitted to Calderdale Council, the full text of which is given below.

Planning & Regeneration Services
Calderdale Council
Town Hall
West Yorkshire

16th August 2012

 Dear Sirs,

re:  Planning application 12/00955/WDF
      Yorkshire Wind Power Ltd
       Repowering of wind farm including construction and operation of nine wind
       turbines (up to 115m to blade tip), construction of access tracks, crane
       hardstanding, temporary construction compound, underground cabling to
       network, new control building with substation and anemometer, to replace
       existing twenty three wind turbines, substation, control building and
       anemometer masts.
       Ovenden Moor Wind Farm Cold Edge Road Wainstalls Halifax Calderdale

The Brontë Society wishes to state its strong objection to the above proposal on the following grounds:-

1)     The damaging impact of the wind turbines on the character of the Worth Valley watershed, a culturally and historically unique landscape.
2)     The adverse effect on tourism and the local economy.

The Worth Valley watershed includes those stretches of moorland and specific locations which are associated with the Brontë family and most particularly with the writings of Emily Brontë.  They are culturally and historically unique and they form an internationally recognised part of England’s heritage.  They also include sections of The Brontë Way and The Pennine Way.  The turbines currently in operation at Ovenden Moor are visible from many parts of the watershed and their visual impact is unfortunate and inappropriate.  However, the current proposal would introduce to the skyline man-made structures of such increased size that they could, potentially, be seen from as far away as Harrogate and Tadcaster.  Seen from all areas of the watershed moorlands they would appear as overwhelming features in the landscape and would diminish the perception of its scale and remoteness.  In an empty landscape even small turbines have a dominating effect and the movement of the blades draws the eye, making them impossible to ignore.  The far greater size of the proposed turbines would have a defining and hugely detrimental influence upon the character of the landscape and its setting.  The validity of this objection takes into account the judgement made by Mrs Justice Lang in May, 2012 in a case brought by SLP Energy regarding Hemsby, Norfork.  The judgement states that “concern about harm to the landscape was on balance more important that the national need for renewable energy”.

The area known as Brontë Country, which includes Haworth and its associated moorlands, was formerly a region whose economy was based mainly upon small-scale agriculture and textiles.  Since the demise of the textile industry the area has become increasingly reliant on the tourism generated by its literary and heritage associations.  The Brontës and their works have, over the last 160 years, inspired worldwide interest which has, more recently, been fuelled by film and television adaptations of their lives and their novels.  This interest has resulted in a flow of visitors to Haworth not merely from Britain but from all parts of the world.   They come to see for themselves something of the village and the countryside in which the Brontës lived and which influenced their work.  They come to see open, empty moorlands unaffected by dominant structures.  Any development which affects the foundations of this literary tourism inevitably affects the local economy.

 The current, inappropriate presence of wind turbines is known to have an adverse effect upon the visitor experience.  A letter to the Daily Telegraph in May 2012, stated “Sadly, anyone who now goes on the Brontë tourist trail will be greeted by wind turbines.  Brontë Country is no longer worth visiting.” (S. Mowbray)  The far greater impact of the current proposal has the potential to cause a decline in visitor numbers leading to decreased incomes from businesses which rely on this tourism and, indeed, the failure of businesses.  Claims that the repowering of Ovenden Moor wind farm will provide local jobs are unfounded as once the construction (by specialist teams) is complete, turbines are remotely monitored, and maintained by very few individuals.  Any jobs created would be minimal and mainly temporary.  The positive impact on the local economy would be negligible and of very little importance compared with the negative effect the proposal would have upon the tourist industry.

The Brontë Society submits that the pre-existence of turbines at Ovenden Moor should have no bearing on the decision of the Planning Committee in respect of the current proposal, and reiterates that, because of its scale and location, the repowering would result in material harm to the character and appearance of the Worth Valley watershed and to the local economy, such harm far outweighing any supposed benefits.

 As a charity it is not appropriate for us to mount a petition nor, in this case, would that be helpful as no matter how many signatures are collected, it would count only as a single objection.  We would ask that, if you wish to support the Society in this, you send your comments to Calderdale Council by post, email or online as follows, in all cases quoting planning application 12/00955/WDF.  The consultation period, during which comments will be accepted, ends on 7th September.

By post:

Planning & Regeneration Services
Calderdale Council
Town Hall
West Yorkshire

By email:


In order to comment online you must register and log in first.  Please ignore any notice on the website to the effect that comments are not being accepted at this time.  Calderdale Council have given an assurance that this is not the case.


Anonymous said...

Sadly, this is not the view of all Bronte Society members. Very few Trustees live anywhere near Haworth. This writer does, and cannot see how the effects threatened are very likely. Once you're there in Haworth you don't notice the ones already up.

Anonymous said...

As a member who is frequently in Haworth, I find that the present turbines do draw the eye. Much larger ones will certainly be noticed. Also, although wind farms are not allowed in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, these will be visible from that area. A very real problem in this part of the world is that once you get one wind farm, others follow. It may be acceptable to put up with Ovenden, but would visitors and residents like the Haworth moors to be ringed by turbines?

Boris Skilet said...

I have just discovered an e book which has made very interesting reading- 'Charlotte Bronte- a monograph.' by T. Weymss Reid. This is something I have not been familiar with before and apparently it was written in Yorkshire -Headingley Hill, Leeds in 1877. The words- 'The moors which lie around Haworth for miles and miles on either side are superb during the summer and autumn months. Then Haworth is in its glory- set in the midst of a vast sea of odorous purple.'- seem a far cry away from the talk of blots on the landscape and wind farms. At the beginning of the writing there is a delighful poem, by the Reverend Charlton, written in 1855, dedicated to the author of 'Jane Eyre' which in turn praises the beauty of these moors.
'Beside her sisters lay her down to rest, by the lone church that stands amid the moors..........
But lo the clouds are past and far and wide the purple ridges glow beneath our eyes' I am not sure a poem written in praise of a large turbine would be so appealing.

scott davidson said...

As an artist myself, I enjoy reading Philip Koch's sensitive writing about Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, who along with Whistler and Rothko, are my favorite American painters.
I don't live in the United States but have traveled and passed a short time there. But even with the little time spent in your beautiful country, especially in small-town America, I can relate to some of the poetical feel that Hopper and Wyeth had captured in their art, which is for me part of the attraction of their paintings.
Browsing at the other day, as I do now and then, I find a good selection of Edward Hopper's work, ,in the big archive of Western Art, that customers can order online for canvas prints and even hand-painted, oil-painting reproductions can be made and sent to them.
Hopper's surrealistic and depersonalized world is there again. Timeless, yes, as it is still there now in the roadside cafes and diners that I ate at all over America.