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Battle for turbines to carry on

Bosses at a North-East drug company last night vowed to continue their fight to erect two giant wind turbines in a bid to cut their energy costs.

Aesica Pharmaceuticals’ planning application to build the two 140-metre-high turbines at their factory in Cramlington, Northumberland, was yesterday turned down by Blyth Valley Borough Council’s development control panel.

The company says the green energy resource will reduce its £407,000-a-year electricity bill by around 40%, making it more efficient and protecting the jobs of its 165 employees. However, planning officers recommended councillors refuse the application – after Newcastle Airport objected on air safety grounds.

Airport managers say the two turbines, which would cost £3.5m to set up, will interfere with the airport’s radar system.

They argue air traffic controllers will be at risk of not being able to distinguish between the turbines and aircraft.

Adam Simms, finance director at Aesica, which make active pharmaceutical ingredients, said after last night’s meeting: “We are disappointed but it is not entirely unexpected. I think we will appeal against it. We have tried to talk to the airport about the turbines in the past and we are prepared to do so again.

“The turbines would help us reduce our energy bill by half, and increase our chances of sustaining employment on the Cramlington site.”

Newcastle and Gateshead branch of Friends of the Earth wrote to the council supporting Aesica’s application and a number of councillors voted last night to defer the decision.

Newcastle Airport’s planning development and facilities manager Graeme Mason said before yesterday’s meeting: “Our objection is based on the turbines creating line-of-sight issues to the airport’s radar and that they could impact on operations at the airport.”

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By Rhodri Phillips, The Journal