A scheme to build a ten turbine wind farm in north Northumberland is controversially being recommended for approval in principle.
It is almost two years since Your Energy submitted plans for a wind farm at Moorsyde between Shoresdean and Duddo and decision time has finally arrived.
Berwick Borough Council’s planning committee will make a decision at what is likely to be a stormy meeting in Ancroft Memorial Hall on Tuesday (6pm).
The recommendation comes after a study by consultants Ferguson McIlveen concluded the wind farm would not have such an adverse visual impact as to warrant refusal.
In a report to members, planners state: “It has been concluded that the proposed wind farm would not result in significant and adverse impacts arising in terms of its effects in landscape character and capacity, visual amenity and living conditions nearby.
“It has also been concluded that the proposed wind farm would not have an unacceptable adverse impact in terms of its effects on nature conservation interests, heritage conservation interests, tourism, TV, radio, telephone or radar reception, shadow flicker, noise or public rights of way.”
However, these comments will be met with disbelief by the 756 people who signed a petition opposing the plans for the 110m (360ft) turbines.
Opponents claim the recommendation undermines an in depth wind capacity study currently being carried out by Ove Arup to determine the appropriate scale and location of wind farm proposals.
This work was commissioned by the borough, county council and the North East Assembly.
Joan Lawson, a Duddo parish councillor, said: “The parish council had been led to believe that all wind farm decisions would await the Ove Arup report.
“For the borough to be acting in this way at this time defies belief.”
Ove Arup’s work has already been piloted in Tynedale and during this process all wind farm planning decisions were set to one side. It was widely praised for its rigorous and scientific approach which is why the extension of the study to the Berwick area was so widely welcomed.
Moorsyde Action Group (MAG) have also expressed surprise at the lack of recognition of an independent audit report of the application by consultants Ironside Farrar.
This report was commissioned by the borough council itself following widespread criticism of the original application and concluded the Moorsyde wind farm would have ‘significant adverse impacts on the site and surroundings that will be difficult to mitigate’.
Mike Maud, MAG spokesman, said: “Not only have they (Berwick Borough Council) chosen to ignore the results of independent reports that they themselves have commissioned, but they now appear to be sabotaging Ove Arup’s study which is designed to find positive solutions to this complex and controversial issue.”
Although there has been strong opposition, there have also been 181 letters backing the proposal – many from renewable energy supporters and others who believe the turbines can be an attractive feature in their own right.
Richard Mardon, managing director of Your Energy, said: “This is a great opportunity for Berwick to become self sufficient in renewable energy and make a statement that it is taking sustainable development and climate change very seriously.
“We also note that Berwick is one of the lowest income regions of the country and are sure that the £750,000 we would set aside over the life of the project for the community benefit scheme could go a long way towards helping with local energy efficiency, education and/or fuel poverty initiatives.”
Members are being asked to grant approval in principle because of archaeological excavations yet to be carried out.
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