BOSSES of a cash-strapped non-league football club want to use its windswept location to slash energy costs.
Tow Law FC, which plays its home games in the Skilltraining Ltd Northern League first division at the Ironworks Ground 1,000 feet above sea level, has applied for planning permission to build a wind turbine alongside the pitch.
The proposed turbine would save the club thousands of pounds per year by providing electricity to the newly refurbished clubhouse.
Surplus electricity would be sold back to the National Grid, providing an additional source of income to the County Durham club where a young Chris Waddle first made his name, before moving onto greater things with Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Marseilles, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland and England.
But the plan has struck a hitch following a demand by Durham County Council for the club to carry out an ecological survey, in case any bats may be roosting in the vicinity. Club chairperson Sandra Gordon said: “A wind turbine would save us something like £3,000 a year by providing the electricity for the clubhouse.
“It would not be able to provide energy to illuminate the floodlights, although it would be no bigger in size than our floodlights. Any surplus electricity produced could be sold to the national grid.
“But we have been told by Durham County Council that we must pay for an ecological survey in case any bats are roosting around the ground.
“That would cost us something like £400, which is money we can ill afford. The recent bad weather has meant we have only played three home games so far this year, which means we have been losing out on possible revenue.
“What is more absurd is that nobody has seen any bats around the place.”
The windy climate around Tow Law means that the town and its environs is already host to more than a dozen wind turbines much larger than the one proposed by the football club.
Ms Gordon said the club had contacted local MP Hilary Armstrong for advice. “Everyone knows about the wind and weather at Tow Law, so we’re simply trying to make the most of what we’ve got,” she added.
“It’s an attempt to be environmentally friendly and to reduce our carbon footprint.”
A spokesman for Durham County Council said: “Current research indicates that wind turbines kill protected species and in this case the most likely wildlife at risk are bats. “We’ve asked for a risk assessment, not a full survey. The cost is down to whoever the applicant hires to do the work.”