CHILDREN, politicians and business people witnessed "a historic day" as the area's first commercial wind farm was officially opened.
Carsington Pasture Wind Farm, a crop of four 100-metre wind turbines which tower over the surrounding countryside, was formally opened on Monday.
Children from the wind farm's three nearest schools – Carsington and Hopton Primary, Kirk Ireton Primary and Brassington Primary – gathered with councillors, supporters and representatives of its owners West Coast Energy at the foot of the turbines to watch the proceedings.
Stephen Salt, planning and public affairs director for West Coast Energy, said: "We are very pleased to have given Carsington Pasture Wind Farm its official opening.
"This project will generate clean renewable energy for many years to come, so it's great to be joined by pupils from the local primary schools to witness this historic occasion."
The first of its kind in Derbyshire, the wind farm's four turbines can generate up to 8.2 mega watts of clean electricity which is enough to power around 5,591 homes.
Bosses say this source of renewable energy saves around 565,025 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) over its 25-year lifetime.
The official opening ceremony was carried out by Councillor Garry Purdy, of Derbyshire Dales District Council, and chairman of the Wind Farm Liaison Committee, which has been involved in the project from the start.
The committee was put in place to ensure the community benefits as much as possible from the turbines being built on their doorstep and to act as a go-between for residents and parish councillors with the developers.
He said: "I was delighted to open the Carsington Pasture Wind Farm, on a historic day for the Derbyshire Dales. It was great to see the children from the schools there.
"The message we put out on the steps before we cut the ribbon was a message of how renewable energy will influence their lives in the future.
"I thank them for supporting it and we look forward to working with West Coast Energy and GDF SUEZ in the future to ensure our community continues to benefit from the wind farm."
Staff from West Coast Energy and the firm which will now operate the turbines, GDF SUEZ, were on hand to show the invited guests and the school children, around the wind farm. The site is now fully operational.
The proposal for a wind farm was originally turned down by the Southern Area Planning Committee of Derbyshire Dales District Council – a decision which was later overturned by a Government inspector at an appeal.