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Country News - 2005

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Windfarm battle begins today

Tuesday 19 April 2005

ONE OF the most important planning enquiries ever to affect Britain's rural landscape opens in Cumbria today over plans which, say critics, would in effect "industrialise rural England."

Under reviews at Shap are plans to build 27 huge wind turbines at Whinash, a strip of land alongside the M6 which in effect divides the Yorkshire Dales National Park from the Lake District National Park and is one of the wildest uplands in the country.

The turbines would be 400-feet high and would be visible for some 40 miles - or even more from higher ground - in the Northern Dales and the tourist honeys pots of the Lakes.

The plan, being sponsored by an Italian energy company and Lord Lonsdale, the local landowner, has split the British environmental movement down the middle, pitching the national parks and organisations like the Council to Protect Rural England against more extreme "green" pressure groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

The former - supported by famous Lake District residents like the TV presenter Lord Bragg and the mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington - believe that is such a development is allowed in such an important beauty spot, nowhere in the country will be safe.

On the other hand, the "greens" says that such windfarms must be built to supply Britain's future energy needs from renewal sources - a view being pushed by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

One of the stranger twists in what is expected to be a long and bitter battle is the Government's own body, the Countryside Agency, is actually opposing the plan - the first time it has ever publicly stood against Government policy.


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