By Brian Daniel
A site earmarked for a major windfarm development near Haltwhistle has been placed on a national list of beauty spots under threat.
The former opencast site at Plenmeller has come under the national spotlight in the same week as Harworth Power Ltd has taken the first steps toward the erection of 24 wind turbines.
The company, part of the UK Coal group which mined the site until 1998, has submitted a planning application to Tynedale Council for a 50m high wind monitoring mast at Rock House Fell, Plenmeller Common.
It is widely believed that the mast is a precursor to a windfarm application.
But the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has placed the Plenmeller site on a list of national beauty spots which are under threat.
The CPRE says the site is one of nine “jewels in the crown” which are in danger of being devastated because governments and councils are “tearing up” their own rules.
The CPRE claims the Plenmeller proposal should not be allowed because it contravenes guidance on development in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Northumberland National Park.
The CPRE said the turbines would be a “major visual intrusion” to the designated landscapes.
CPRE’s Northumberland chairman Dominic Coupe said: “It is an especially bad example because it impacts both on the national park and the AONB.
“To produce a site like that which impacts on such a beautiful area is nuts. It is nonsense.
“It will inevitably lead to another application for a windfarm.
“There is not a lot of point putting up a mast if you are not going to put up a windfarm.
“The Plenmeller application ““ 24 of these things and 90 metres in height ““ is going to have some enormous impact on the landscape.
“CPRE Northumberland would certainly object to these proposals very strongly.”
Coun. John Blackett-Ord, chairman of Plenmeller with Whitfield Parish Council, also raised concerns about the application.
He said: “I am delighted to hear that the CPRE is concerned about these sorts of developments in areas of high landscape value, such as the Plenmeller site, which will be visible from Hadrian’s Wall.
“The parish council has already expressed great concern over the possibility of a windfarm on that site and has given detailed reasons why it feels it is not appropriate.
“It is to do with all sorts of things ““ landscape, wildlife, low flying aircraft, possible noise.
“There are many reasons to be concerned about it.
“These things are very, very large ““ they are over 300ft high.
“The parish council is unlikely to be in favour of a windfarm mast which is being erected to support a windfarm application.”
A spokesman for Harworth said: “We are in the process of evaluating the potential of the Plenmeller site and that process involves the monitoring of the wind strength.
“After that process we will decide if and what potential the site has for a windfarm cluster.
“We obviously respect the fact that organisations such as CPRE have the right to express their views, but we must also recognise that we all demand energy and that energy will increasingly come from renewable sources which involves harnessing the wind.”
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