The latest in a cluster of wind farms for a corner of County Durham goes before councillors this week.
The plan by EDF Energy is for four 102-metre turbines at Broom Hill Farm, between the villages of Sunniside and Stanley Crook.
The site is within a 12-mile-wide circle which includes the Tow Law and High Hed-ley sites, which each have three turbines, and others at High Hedley and Satley with planning permission for a total of 16 turbines.
Wear Valley councillors will be told on Thursday that from some viewpoints the turbines would appear as a single windfarm of 26 machines.
The Broom Hill site, part of which has been opencast in the past, consists of a conifer plantation and grazing land.
It also has what remains of Stanley Moss, a blanket peat bog which is designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance and a County Wildlife Site.
A total of 15 acres of conifers would be felled and restoration work would be carried out on areas of the bog which were planted with trees.
EDF has said it would restore Stanley Moss as a nature reserve, and native trees would be planted in the area.
But the Campaign to Protect Rural England, which has objected to the proposal, says the landscape has suffered in the past and should be saved from what it describes as an intrusive development. CPRE says it is concerned at the cumulative effect of the current and proposed windfarms. Objectors argue there are already enough turbines in the county, that the area has already been exploited by the coal industry for many years, turbines are inefficient generators of power and will ruin views.
But planners, who are recommending approval, say last year’s North-East Renewable Energy strategy recognised scope for wind farms in the Wear Valley district was severely limited by protected landscapes and built-up areas. But the strategy does accept small- scale wind farms may be acceptable in some areas where the landscape is not designated – such as the proposal site.
According to planners, the scheme would not have a significant impact on the character of the landscape.
By Tony Henderson, Environment Editor
The Journal, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
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