THE CHIEF of an eco-friendly company has accused City of York Council of "putting unnecessary obstacles in the way of planning applications".

The criticism came after several residents complained they have been refused planning permission to install domestic wind turbines on their homes.

The residents and the chief executive of Windsave Ltd, a company which produces domestic wind turbines, refuse to accept the council's reasoning that the noise levels are too great.

David Gordon, chief executive of Windsave Ltd, said: "We have supplied identical information to various other local authorities around the country who are perfectly satisfied of the noise levels, including Northamptonshire, South Lanarkshire, Glasgow and Salford City Council.

"City of York Council is using noise levels as a red herring. They have got the noise levels of our system and our noise levels are no greater than the noise of the wind itself.

"City of York Council is putting unnecessary obstacles in the way to discourage the consumers to create their own micro-generation and reduce their own electricity bills.

"It is up to local authorities to encourage consumers, to assist the public in creating on-site generation top reduce their energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions."

York Labour MP Hugh Bayley agreed that the council should be doing all it could to encourage people to generate their own electricity in a sustainable way.

Mr Bayley said: "The advice from the Government's minister for planning, Yvette Cooper, is to use the existing law in relation to wind turbines and process planning applications that you receive.

"Councils should be doing everything they can not to put planning applications at risk because we risk undermining the Government's target of increasing the proportion of electricity we supply from renewable sources by 2010."

A City of York Council spokeswoman confirmed that there have been no planning applications for wind turbines passed so far in York.

The spokeswoman said the council was still waiting for information about noise levels from the company, but that the manufacturers should pass the information on to customers, who will then pass it onto the council in their planning applications.

A report from the Planning Inspectorate concerning a resident's appeal for a wind turbine application to City of York Council supported the council's standpoint.

In the report, J Chance stated: "Such schemes should not be at the expense of detracting from neighbouring residents' enjoyment of their properties and in this case insufficient information has been provided to conclude that the proposal would not harm the living conditions of existing residential occupiers."

Powerful statistics

Approximate specification of a Windsave 1000 turbine, pictured above

Weight: 11kgs

Dimensions, generator assembly: 449mm length x 170mm width x 350mm height

Swept area, blade assembly: 2.4m

Dimensions: 535mm long x 315 mm wide x 130mm deep

Blade Colour: Grey

Operating speed of blades: 100-900 rpm

Expected safe life: Minimum ten years