PLANS to erect a wind turbine on Richmondshire farmland have caused controversy among neighbouring residents.

But the applicant said it is a step towards cutting the carbon footprint of a successful farm shop and visitor attraction.

Mainsgill Farm, near East Layton, has submitted plans to Richmondshire District Council for a 50 metre wind turbine to help ease increasing rising electricity costs.

Farmer Andrew Henshaw said the decision was not taken lightly and has been making efforts to speak to local residents, many of whom frequently use the farm shop and cafe.

But neighbouring villager Rob Simpson said it would be a blot on the landscape.

He said: “Our main concerns are the blot on the landscape, threat to birds and bats and the impact on visitors passing through the area, and we are quite proud of the fact that we don’t have any.

“We understand Mainsgill Farm is a business but we think it’s a selfish act.”

Mr Henshaw said he had looked at various options to cut fuel costs but only the turbine would be appropriate for the farm.

“The turbine will be sympathetically located so it is in a dip in the footprint of the farm.

“Fossil fuels are not going to last forever so we need to look at ways of keeping our costs down – that way we can keep costs down on our products for our customers.”

He added: “We have approached local people and 90 per cent of comments have been very supportive but I would welcome both positive and negative feedback.”

Mr Simpson said he has been speaking to residents of East Leyton and Ravensworth, who together have written an objection letter to Richmondshire District Council planning officers.

Mr Henshaw said: “We want people to understand it is not a large turbine – I know there’s one going up near Darlington capable of producing 500 kilowatts of power and ours will generate a fraction of that.

“It will make a real difference to Mainsgill – I can understand people’s concerns but we are trying to lower our footprint and keep prices low for our customers.”

Richmondshire District Council planners said the application is in the consultation stage but Mainsgill Farm now has to convince the Highways Agency that the entrance to the farm from the A66 is safe for construction vehicles to enter before it can go before the planning committee.