NEIGHBOURS of an acclaimed Wigan eco-park have managed to get its wind turbine turned off after a row about noise.
Armstrong Point at Hindley Green has won many plaudits for its “zero carbon” energy policy and could prove a role model for industrial estates across the world.
But for the last year it has won few friends from residents in nearby streets who have complained about the “very loud whining and whirring” noise from the spinning blades disturbing their sleep.
And now engineers have been drafted in to fit a switch which allows it to be switched off during anti-social hours following enforcement action from the council over alleged breach of planning consent.
Currently Wigan town hall planning bosses are awaiting an application from the industrial park to be allowed to operate the turbine for 24 hours a day. Existing permission granted to Armstrong Point was for the turbine to operate between 7am and 11pm only.
Sheila Woodward of Hindley Green Residents Association, has led the battle over the turbine noise.
Her house backs onto the park and says that she has been forced to install double glazing in what she says has been an unsuccessful bid to combat the noise.
She also says that she made repeated phone calls to Armstrong Point, trying to get them to honour the planning permission terms and was always told there was no way of turning the turbine off.
Mrs Woodward, a retired mathematician with British Nuclear Fuels, said: “We have been through a year of hell with this turbine, trying to get Armstrong Point to obey their planning permission at the very least. At least now we can get a decent night’s sleep.”
The structure sits proudly at the gates of the industrial park, opened by European Development Fund Minister Baroness Higham and council leader Lord Smith in November 2012 amid a blaze of publicity.
The nine units also benefit from solar panels which heat water as well as generating electricity, while harvesting rainwater for re-use.
Such energy saving investment – the wind turbine is billed by owners as generating over 20,000kW per annum while saving 11 tonnes of Co2 - help the business park, which replaced the former Barrs drinks factory, to claim to offer the “best value in the North West” as the “first zero energy business park in the region.”
Dave Armstrong, of Carbon Consultancy which runs the park, said: “A local meeting was held to alleviate concerns prior to construction and during construction Armstrong Properties worked with Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School to ensure children understood the dangers of the development to them.
“A donation went towards school funds for their wildlife garden. We also held a local fishing contest of which many Hindley Green residents took part in. Our contractors won one of the highest scores in the Considerate Contractor scheme which includes all the work they do in the community to cause least disturbance.
“As a developer we pushed them hard to achieve these targets.
“Armstrong Properties have been working with planners in respect of a future application. Measuring wind speeds requires certain weather conditions for correct recording.
“Our sophisticated monitoring equipment shows that the development has saved in the region of 137 tonnes of carbon emissions which is the equivalent to 27 average homes.
“Personally, I have offered to meet with the residents association to which Shelia Woodworth has told me isn’t necessary.
“I am happy for residents to come to site to understand the many positive benefits this development brings to the local area, including job opportunities and carbon emission saving, something which has been supported greatly by Wigan planners.”