COUNTY councillors are investigating the potential for producing green energy on local authority smallholdings - including sites in Selby district.

North Yorkshire County Council has begun working with Partnerships For Renewables to look at potential locations for wind turbines as part of its drive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Coun Carl Les, in charge of corporate affairs at the county council, said detailed studies would initially examine the smallholding estates - small farms rented out across the county - as potential locations for electricity-generating wind turbines.

He said future projects could also investigate other forms of renewable energy, such as solar power.

He said any installations would be privately run and funded, but the power generated would be used either to supply the council's own needs at reduced cost, or fed into the national grid to provide income for the local authority.

Coun Les said: "Climate change threatens the world and we need to act now to deal with it. We must reduce CO2 emissions, much of which results from burning fossil fuels to produce electricity.

"While we must all try to reduce our use of electricity, generating it using renewable resources, such as the wind, will also reduce CO2 emissions."

He said the county council would take great care to ensure that any turbines were only installed on appropriate sites and would deliver real benefits to the areas in which they were built.

"Each case will be individually considered, on its merits, and subject to a rigorous planning process," he said.

"A detailed public consultation will take place to ensure that the community has a say in how any future development proceeds."

Coun John Mackman, the chairman of Selby District Council's planning committee, said he supported the drive to produce more green energy and said planners would consider any application on its merits.

"I don't find wind turbines particularly unattractive," Coun Mackman said. "But I'm a professional engineer. Others may find them totally unacceptable, so you have to be careful where you locate them."

He warned against the district being "ringed" by wind turbines built in neighbouring local authorities, which the district council had no say on.

He also said many sites were being mooted around the A1(M) corridor, which could create problems.

"These turbines are 80 metres to the hub - they're huge," he said. "So, the visual impact has to be taken into consideration, particularly next to a motorway.

"They're quite impressive, and you've got to think about people travelling at speed looking up at them."