The Pennine Bridleway was the brainchild of Mary Towneley, who, in 1986, set off with three friends – Jane Rowell, Dawn Bailey and Mary Cranfield – to ride from Little Dipton near Hexham to Parsley Hey in Derbyshire to prove that a national trail for horse riders was a feasible proposition. It took a further three years’ campaigning by horse riders to persuade the Countryside Commission to put its weight behind the Pennine Bridleway. In August 1991 the Commission submitted a report to the Secretary of State for the Environment recommending that the Pennine Bridleway should be approved. In the South Pennines such was the enthusiasm of local riders and the multiplicity of tracks that a circular route or loop was agreed. This was particularly important because the South Pennines has no special designation and as such loses out compared with the national parks. So the Mary Towneley Loop came into being. This provides riders with a three/four day ride, and is extremely popular. However, the Mary Towenley Loop is now threatened by large-scale wind farms on the common land in Rochdale and Rossendale. These will be a major deterrent to horse riders using the Loop. The present state of play is as follows:
Wind farm no. 1 Scout Moor
As you drive northwest from Rochdale along the Edenfield Road (A680) the expanse of moorland to the north rises up to Scout Moor (467 metres). It is not the most beautiful landscape – part of what used to be called the industrial Pennines. The industrial past is being revived, as now on the escarpment are 26 turbines, the largest wind farm in England, courtesy of Peel Holdings. The turbines can be seen from 20 miles away. At present there is no ridden access to Scout Moor from the Edenfield Road. To the east the Pennine Bridleway runs north on Rooley Moor Road, then branches west towards Cowpe Lowe. Most of the turbines are at some distance from the bridleway, apart from turbines 25 and 19 in the northeast corner, which may cause riders problems.
Wind farm no. 2 Scout Moor Extension
Peel and United Utilities are now proposing to extend the wind farm. Their initial proposal was to double the number of turbines to 54. This would have resulted in a line of turbines to the north of the site running alongside and across the Mary Towneley Loop. The developers do not seem aware of the impact of turbines on horses or the national importance of the Pennine Bridleway. The developers have now reduced the number of additional turbines to 16, making 42 in total. However, the number of turbines has only been reduced to avoid having to submit the application to Secretary of State. As it stands, the application will now be determined by Rochdale and Rossendale Borough Councils. The current proposal was due to be submitted by the end of January, with consultation taking place in February-March 2015. However, it seems to be delayed.
Wind farm no. 3 Rooley Moor
Coronation Power has already submitted an application for another wind farm immediately to the east of Scout Moor. This will directly affect Rooley Moor Road. The application is for 12 turbines, which will be located on either side of Rooley Moor Road. The road itself will be used at the haul road for the construction. application map 4.8.14 The application will be determined by Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council. The application reference number is 14/00877/FUL:
‘Erection of 12 wind turbine generators (maximum height to tip of 125m), construction of access tracks and crane pads, formation of borrow pits for the extraction of stone for on site construction works, erection of 70m high meteorological mast, erection of substation, transformer housings, control room and associated laydown area and construction compound, associated infrastructure and development ancillary thereto.’
There is also a consultation submission (reference no. 14/01136/CONS), dated 19 September 2014.
Additional information was submitted to Rochdale Council on 19 December 2014: this consists of Supplementary Environmental Information (SEI) and Further Environmental Information (FEI) in respect of a possible 8-turbine development rather than 12.
The date for submission of comments is 5 March 2014.
There are already a huge number of documents on the Rochdale Planning website, many from local riders who have already sent in objections, some in great detail. However, this is not just a local issue. We need objections from anyone who has ridden the Pennine Bridleway and the Mary Towneley Loop.
To see the documents on line go to: www.rochdale.gov.uk
To send comments go to:http://publicaccess.rochdale.gov.uk/online-applications/
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or write to: Mark Robinson BSc (Hons), Dip, T.P., M.R.T.P.I., Chief Planning Officer, Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council , PLANNING SERVICE , Number One Riverside, Smith Street , Rochdale OL16 1XU
 In 2012 Peel Energy sold its 50% share in the facility to Munich Re‘s asset management division MEAG. The other 50% holding was also purchased by MEAG from HgCapital Renewable Power Partners. United Utilities have an interest as a partner (information from Stephen Snowdon, Peel Energy, in a presentation to Lancashire County Council’s Local Access Forum, 20 January 2015). ______________________________________________________________________________________________
Selected responses and other information
Natural England Screening opinion 10.8.12 See page 3 for ‘Rights of way, access land, Coastal access and National trails’