PLANS to build a massive wind turbine between the Cowley works and Horspath are being unveiled today by Oxford City Council

The single commercial-scale turbine is set to be built on council- owned land across the road from the Horspath Road Athletics Track. And it is being viewed as a first step towards making Oxford a national leader in developing major wind energy schemes.

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The £3m turbine will have a combined blade and tower height of 130m, making it taller than the 122m turbine beside the M4, outside Reading. And the proposed 2.5 MW turbine will produce quantities of green energy equivalent to that used by 1,200 households a year. It promises to be one of the first wind energy developments to be built on council land in the UK. Detailed technical and environmental work will shortly begin with a view to submitting a planning application in 2011.

Partnerships for Renewables, set up by the Carbon Trust to work with the public sector, will pay for the development costs, with an annual payment made to Oxford City Council.

Last year, the Town Hall asked experts to look at four possible sites for a wind turbine, all on the edge of the city. The other sites were at Cutteslowe Park; close to the Hinksey Heights Golf Club; and south of Greater Leys.

Tom Brinicombe, of Partner-ships for Renewables, said the Horspath site had been selected because it was a suitable distance from housing, with no environmentally designated land nearby.

He said: “There are also a number of businesses and organisations in the vicinity of the site. There is potential for the turbines to supply green electricity directly to them. We would be happy to discuss this opportunity with local electricity users as part of our development.

“The current plans are to have just one turbine. But there is the potential to have more. If we do that we will make sure the local community knows exactly what is going on.”

The company hailed the announcement as “a major breakthrough in the pursuit of renewable energy generation on council land.” Mr Brinicombe said: “We have spoken to the vast majority of local authorities in England and Wales. Oxford is the first one to show the leadership to come into this.”

A test mast will shortly go up to see if the wind power is sufficient.

John Tanner, the city council board member for a Cleaner, Greener Oxford, said: “The site is a first for Oxford and a practical contribution to creating a Low Carbon city. Wind turbines are quiet, graceful and not a threat to wildlife. Compared to ugly electricity pylons, wind turbines are a huge improvement for Oxford’s environment.

“The real threat to our countryside locally is not wind turbines but climate change. I hope everyone will support this wind turbine plan. Both the city council and Partnerships for Renewables are committed to ensuring that the local community is central to the development process.”

The idea of building a wind turbine near Hinksey Heights has been dropped after early protests. But if the Horspath scheme proved successful, Partnerships for Renewables hinted that Cutteslowe Park and Greater Leys could later see turbines.

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