I was thinking of entitling this entry “Smothering Heights”, as it relates to the suffocation of the wild and wuthering uplands immortalised in the novels of the Bronte Sisters. A relaxing Sunday drive around the area was once again marred by more or less continuous wind blight for miles and miles around.
I noticed that the large town of Keighley, situated in the heart of Bronte country on the banks of the River Worth, just south of where it flows into the Aire, has now been totally surrounded on all sides by wind blight. My hypothesis is that this wind blight has a quantifiably negative impact on the town.
Looking at the crime figures for Keighley over the last decade, one can see a huge surge in violent crime since 2011 (when hardly any of these turbines were present). Between September 2017 and August 2018 there were a horrifying 3,682 violent crimes; in the same period between 2011 and 2012 there were “just” 777. That is an immense jump – an almost 500% increase in violent crime over just seven years. Is it just coincidence that over those seven years almost every available hillside surrounding Keighley has been blighted by wind turbines?
Even if the turbines aren’t directly to blame for the 500% rise in violent crime that seems to have occurred following their erection, they’ve certainly not made Keighley any greener, calmer, safer or more pastoral – the statistics prove it!
Let’s now look at Public Order offences – those low level incidents of people being aggressive or antisocial. Between September 2017 and August 2018 there were 941 Public Order offences in Keighley, compared with just 231 over the same period 2011-2012. That’s an increase of over 400%
The hard part of course is proving a causal link between the turbines and the increase in crime, so I’ll let you make your own minds up about the correlation between the two. There is certainly a symbiotic relationship however – it’s generally agreed that blight increases antisocial behaviour, and places that don’t have great self-esteem are easier pickings for wind predators bearing bribes.
The overall impression you get of Keighley now is of a town in beautiful but degraded natural surroundings. And so, instead of embracing the South Pennine moors on its doorstep, Keighley seems to be doing its best to cut itself off from them by erecting a ring of steel surrounding it on all sides.
Let’s go for a virtual road-trip around Keighley and look deeper into the stories behind the blight.
Ovenden Moor Wind Farm dominates the landscape for dozens of miles all around, blighting not only the South Pennines but also Ilkley Moor and the Dark Peak. The original wind farm here was one of the first ever, and I remember visiting it years and years ago when it was something of an intriguing novelty. The original, smaller turbines were barely visible over the horizon; the repowered monsters that were installed in 2016 now follow you around wherever you go in the area. It’s almost impossible to get away from their domineering and intimidating presence.
Everything you liked about the Brontes’ writing (and Kate Bush’s music) has been belittled by the imposition of the new Ovenden Moor Wind Farm on the landscape. It’s utterly horrific in its visual impact. On its own it would be bad enough, but as you probably know by now, wherever you get a large wind farm you also get dozens of smaller turbines within its blighted penumbra.
I’ve already mentioned adjacent Soil Hill, a higgledy-piggledy collection of random wind turbines around this prominent hill, just west of Bradford and the highest point for 6,000 miles (until you hit the Urals!). Nobody, not even the most diehard, brainwashed Windie, could claim that wind turbines have improved the aesthetics of Soil Hill. It just looks like a scrap heap!
The A629, the main road through Keighley, makes its way north from the Calderdale border west of Soil Hill, twisting through the high-altitude village of Denholme and across the fringe of the moors before dropping down to Bronte-Central, aka Haworth. All the tourist stuff lies across the steep-sided Worth Valley, with the main road only skirting the village. High to its east lies one of the most visually incongruous turbines in the area – its gleaming, high-visibility white paint totally out-of-place.
The Bronte Society has long been struggling against the threat of wind blight and all the nauseating corporate BS that goes with it. First the Thornton Moor Wind Farm was approved…. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-17674282#
Luckily, the Wanks (sorry, Banks) Group pulled out! https://www.keighleynews.co.uk/news/13716481.Firm_shelves_plans_for_controversial_windfarm/
Why do wind farm people speak with such an unfailingly irritating, punchable, smug, passive-aggressive manner? Every single word these slippery scum utter makes my muscles clench up and my feelings curdle into anger.
On the high ridge east of Keighley there is another over-prominent turbine at Aire View Farm. About a year ago this turbine was in pieces, but it seems to be working again now. Was it replaced, or was it just routine maintenance?
If you want a fun driving road – or an even more fun cycling route – get yourself to Long Lee, a village/suburb only just connected to Keighley. The main road through the village is called Long Lee Lane before becoming Thwaites Brow Road: a suitably northern name for a quintessentially northern thoroughfare! You might want to stick Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” (also known as the Hovis music) on the stereo as you pass the Dickie Bird pub and start dropping vertiginously down this ludicrously steep, winding, boneshaking cobbled lane. Thwaites Brow Road bottoms out at the Aire Valley, where our road trip crosses the A650 and enters Riddlesden.
We ascend almost as steeply as we dropped, now north of the Aire and onto the southern slopes of Rombalds Moor. Where Rombalds Moor becomes Ilkley Moor, I’m not certain, because it’s all the same Marilyn, but I’ve already referred to the social injustice of the abysmal, diabolical, and incredibly suspicious Jaytail Farm wind turbine that blights the Rombalds side of the moor, so maybe that’s the difference: Ilkley Moor is iconic, posh and well-protected, whereas little-known Rombalds Moor is a free-for-all for get-rich-quick wind scammers. Is that the difference?
So much of the fiery criticism of wind power contained in this blog is as a direct result of Jaytail Farm’s unwelcome addition to the landscape. Let’s just remind ourselves: Bradford Council REJECTED this wind turbine, for eminently sensible and rational reasons. Planning Inspectorate WANKER Brendan Lyons overruled the wishes of the community with one of the very last successful appeals to slip through the net before the veto, claiming the turbine only has “moderate” impact, which is absolutely deceitful bollocks, almost criminally so.
It was this catastrophic misrepresentation by Brendan Lyings that inspired my long guidance essay to the Planning Inspectorate, my video channel Remove All Wind Blight, and indeed this entire blog. The avatar of me at the top of the blog comes from the very day I happened to notice the turbine being constructed, from almost ten miles away, and I sped over to the site to capture the construction in real time.
Barely two and a half years later, the Jaytail turbine looks filthy and dilapidated, with visible corrosion just under the nacelle. The blades look like they’re covered in manure (the shit really did hit the fan, by the looks of things!) and the turbine is almost always spinning far more rapidly than the wind. Maybe it really is a super-dooper power generator after all; or could it simply be parasitically consuming electricity in times of absolutely no wind?
To see the Jaytail turbine for yourself, well go anywhere within ten miles of Keighley and look towards Ilkley Moor – you won’t miss it! But if you want a close-up, as well as a great panoramic view that really proves how wind blight has now enveloped poor old Keighley, than get yourself up to Holden Lane, the high road north of Riddlesden that runs right past the Jaytail turbine.
As we head west we descend another steep hill and drop down towards Silsden. Just before reaching Crosshills (with views directly back towards the Jaytail turbine), we cross briefly into the very edge of North Yorkshire, though it still feels more like West than North Yorkshire. The magnificent outcrop underneath Wainman’s Pinnacle looks like one of the most mountainous slopes in the region, but in fact there is a lane that passes behind the pinnacle, and even higher moors stretch off as far as the eye can see. Finally, finally, we reach the post-turbine wilderness, at last free of these sinister steel pillars that have been watching us throughout our journey. Or so it seems, for a few seconds…
Unfortunately, however, you never feel you’re that far from civilisation, because those bloody Ovenden Moor turbines keep reappearing on the skyline, just when you think you’ve seen the last of them. You really have to be around these awful machines for an extended period of time in order to start appreciating just how alienating and discombobulating their presence is.
Even at a height of nearly 400 metres above sea level, there are also still far too many isolated wind turbines around, including the “famous” one at Tewitt Hall Farm that has apparently won awards. Funny how there’s been no coverage of the burnout of this turbine… when I passed it yesterday, its blades looked charred and ravaged by fire, with a big hole where the nacelle should be. This stresses again that wind TURBINES are not sustainable. The wind might be (except it’s not really), but the metal machines needed to harness it sure aren’t remotely sustainable, and it’s those very Pennine winds that are killing the goose that laid the golden egg. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere…
Still, I struggle to feel too much animosity towards the poor, struggling owners of Tewitt Hall. They’ve TRIED to make this work, but you just can’t escape the Voice of Nature.
EVERYTHING YOU’RE ABOUT TO READ MUST BE TAKEN WITH THE FOLLOWING PIECE OF INFORMATION IN MIND – THE WIND TURBINE IN QUESTION HAS BURNT OUT AND IS USELESS, BARELY FIVE YEARS AFTER INSTALLATION!
THAT’S NOT SUSTAINABLE…
Our circular road trip takes us from here down into the large village of Oakworth and along the edge of the South Pennines “proper”. Luckily, there are still miles and miles of unspoilt moorland stretching between the Ovenden Moor and Coal Clough wind farms which bookend them.
For a final overview of the area, the A6033 Cock Hill (as featured in the Tour De France) offers an out-of-this-world ride across the tops towards the Calder Valley at Hebden Bridge.
From the top of this stunning road the cumulative impact of Coal Clough, Todmorden, Reaps Moss and Crook Hill wind farms is apparent. These three dozen turbines, separated into clusters but effectively one huge sector of blighted moorland, dominate the views to the south west, dwarfing the supposedly iconic Stoodley Pike.
I’ve mentioned before that maybe it’s best to have regional mega-wind farms, with no turbines permitted anywhere else, so could these South Pennine tops fit the bill and act as one of our regional mega-wind farms? Well, if you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound. If that’s what we want to do with these hills, then we should be honest and upfront about it, and we should be totally frank about the adverse impact of wind blight on all other kinds of land use, for miles around. The affected hills aren’t really fit for much else now, other than power generation. Much of the recreational and amenity value of these moors has been sacrificed at the altar of “green” “energy”.
The main reasons I would reject using the South Pennines as a mega wind-farm are because of the altitude – it just seems totally wrong and bad for the environment that we should even consider industrialising these fragile upper slopes – not to mention the topography and the unique character of the cherished Watershed Landscapes. On a small island like Great Britain, such a parallel universe of above-the-clouds, ethereal plateaus is a remarkable landscape of great value and scientific interest. The literary depictions of these wuthering heights have defined the region over the last couple of centuries, bringing in thousands of tourists from all around the world.
As with everywhere you find them, the wind turbines totally kill the vibe and brutalise the soothing contours of the South Pennines, whilst possibly contributing at least something to the 500% increase in violent crime experienced in Keighley.
That said… don’t let the wind blight put you off… there is still an awful lot of charm and character to Bronte Country, even if you need to turn your back on Ovenden Moor to find it! http://www.bronte-country.com/welcome.html