Plans for a 60-metre wind mast close to a north Northumberland village were thrown out to protect ‘a jewel in the tourism crown’.
Energiekontor UK, which is proposing a nine-turbine windfarm on Belford Burn, had applied to site an anemometer, or met mast, for a temporary period of up to three years.
But at Tuesday night’s meeting of the county council’s planning and environment committee, members turned it down, going against the advice of the planning officers.
Moving refusal, Coun John Taylor pointed out the number of sensitive areas in the vicinity of the site including St Cuthbert’s Way and Cave, St Oswald’s Way, the coastal path, the AONB, Holburn Moss, the Cheviots and the national park.
“We are right in the middle of St Cuthbert’s country here,” he said. “This is an abomination to stick there.
“The curse of St Cuthbert should be on this application and any other interference in this countryside.”
Chairman Coun Trevor Thorne said he was ‘unimpressed’, adding that the officers felt it wouldn’t stand up at appeal, but Coun Taylor was backed by other councillors, who deplored the visual effects.
Coun Paul Kelly said: “This is a jewel in the tourism crown of Northumberland and we could do without spoiling those views.
“The fact that it’s so senstive is a very good reason for refusal, even of a met mast.”
Coun David Moore added: “When you get up on the hills it’s just a spectacular view and this is a forerunner of ruining that.”
This followed objections raised by local ward member Coun Pat Scott and Chris Craddock, chairman of Middleton Burn Action Group.
One of the concerns raised by Mr Craddock was the lack of consultation.
This was echoed by Coun Geoff O’Connell, from Belford Parish Council.
“We are not for it or against it,” he said. “We just have not had the right notice and nor has the public.”
But senior planning officer Sue Birnie said that the statutory requirement was for one site notice on or near the site and that the council had gone well beyond this by contacting residents as well.
After the meeting, Michael Briggs, of Energiekontor UK, said that they were ‘surprised and disappointed’ that the committee had turned down the scheme, ‘particularly given the strong officer recommendation and the relatively low level of objection’ – 10 letters.
He said that any decision on a possible appeal would have to wait until the decision notice had been received from the council.
• An application for a 50-metre met mast, adjacent to the A1 to the north west of Old Felton, was approved.