Test mast for wind project set to be in place this month

Mast site: Preston Docks
Mast site: Preston Docks
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A mast to test the viability of a wind turbine project overlooking Preston’s Docks, worth up to £50m, is hoped to be put up this month.

Plans for an 80-metre test mast are set to go before Preston Council’s planning committee next week, and the structure is due to be put in place by the end of January.

Permission was granted for a test mast in August 2012, and proposals to vary conditions are recommended for approval at the meeting.

The wind turbine project moved a step closer last year when the council signed a £250,000 contract with engineering and design consultancy, Hyder Consulting (UK) Limited.

As specialists in wind and renewable energy projects, Hyder are advising the council on the next steps of the project, including erecting a wind test mast on the Wallend Road site.

If experts find the scheme is viable after the test, plans will be submitted to build three turbines, each up to 120 metres tall.

Coun Robert Boswell, cabinet member for environment and sustainability, said: “The test mast is going up in the near future and we are going to monitor the wind for a year.

“It’s not generating energy - it is measuring the wind power and then we can look at the data and see if it’s worth pursuing.

“If it got off the ground, it would benefit the city in terms of extra generation, and benefit society in terms of renewable energy, so it is something we are very committed to.”

An application to vary two conditions of the plans, which had been approved in 2012, will go before planning committee members on January 13.

A report to members stated the effect of varying one condition would be to change the type of mast from a lattice to a pole secured by guy wires, and increase the height from 80 metres to 80.2 metres.

The variation of the other condition would extend the length of time the mast would be in situ from 12 months to 24 months.

The report said the application would normally be dealt with under delegated powers, but has been referred to the planning committee because the applicant is the City Council.