Should wind turbines be allowed on Billinge Hill?

Billinge Hill, where plans are afoot to build two wind turbines.
Billinge Hill, where plans are afoot to build two wind turbines.

LOVE them or loathe them, you can’t ignore them. The Reporter’s Chris Amery looks at both sides of the row over whether wind turbines should be build at a local beauty spot.

Last week St Helens Council’s planning committee deferred a decision over whether to give controversial plans for two wind turbines near the foot of Billinge Hill the green light.

Now, Francis Williams of the St Helens Green Party has added his backing to the proposals but, on behalf of many local residents, an ex-policeman and magistrate has taken the opposing view.

FOR

Mr Williams said: “Every form of energy generation has an impact on the environment, but in the case of wind turbines it is far less than for coal, gas or nuclear power. This is why we ought to be focused on meeting climate change targets, using less energy and generating it from renewable sources, creating thousands of green jobs.

“Wind turbines do have an impact. They have to stand on a concrete base, they need an access road and underground cables, but once they’re constructed wind farms are clean and renewable. Wind turbine applications must be sensitive to local factors, such as any adverse impact upon residents and wildlife, but it’s hard to see why a small-scale development such as this should be turned down – especially as council planners have already set a precedent in nearby Moss Bank.

“The real energy threat to St Helens isn’t the odd wind turbine here and there, it’s fracking, which is much in the news at the moment and is, is a dirty process, producing heavily contaminated water and it has caused earth tremors where it has been tested in North Lancashire. In the past, St Helens has been a dumping ground for toxic waste. 
We don’t want to see any more.”

AGAINST

Ex-policeman and magistrate Mr Foster made an impassioned plea before St Helens Council’s planning committee last week.

He said: “Me and my wife moved from the Midlands after buying a house in Crank in 1970. It’s a truly stunning landscape - Billinge Hill and Promised Land farm is one of St Helens’ greatest assets. The recreational facilities for walkers and cyclists is second to none.

“Each blade on these turbines would be 85 feet long. To put this into context, the Dream sculpture is 65 feet in height. This would be like having three Dreams sailing around, locked at the centre. The total height of each turbine - including the blades - would be three times the height of Dream.

“Enterprise should not be at the expense of one of the borough’s greatest assets, which can continue to serve the people of the borough for generations to come.

“This is a business enterprise with one basic aim - to generate profit for the entrepreneur.”