September 8, 2006

"˜Wind' site on threat list

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 was included on the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) list in the same week that Harworth Power Ltd took 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.

The list 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. It 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.

It adds that 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.

“CPRE Northumberland would certainly object to these proposals very strongly.”

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 is unlikely to be in favour of a windfarm mast which is being erected to support a windfarm application.”

A spokesman for Harworth Power Ltd 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.”

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