Campaigners fighting plans for a nine-turbine wind farm near a conservation village have suffered a setback from the Government’s Planning Inspectorate.
Earlier this year, villagers and parish councillors in Longhirst, near Morpeth, persuaded planners to reject green energy company RES UK’s request to erect an 80m mast to test wind speeds.
They feared approving the anemometer mast would pave the way for an application to build a cluster of 125m-high turbines in an area not marked in policy documents for wind farm development.
Now RES UK has successfully appealed against Castle Morpeth Council’s decision and a Government planning inspector has granted consent for the mast for three years.
Inspector Robin Brooks says the lightweight mast would have little presence in the landscape and would not impinge on the conservation area.
In April, Castle Morpeth councillors rejected the advice of their planning officers and refused the Hertfordshire company permission for the mast.
Local people had said it would be visually intrusive, too close to houses and pave the way for a nine-turbine wind farm in an inappropriate location. Longhirst Parish Council chairman Bob Jackson said yesterday: “If the wind tests demonstrate that turbines can work here, then we feel it is almost inevitable that an application for a wind farm will be submitted.” Castle Morpeth councillors say Longhirst does not lie within designated areas of wind search in the council’s local plan.
Meanwhile, mining company UK Coal has submitted a revised application to Tynedale District Council for a 50m-high wind speed test mast at the former Plenmeller opencast site near Haltwhistle.
The mast is intended to provide information on changing wind directions and strengths in the moorland area.
UK Coal is interested in developing a 20-turbine wind farm, capable of powering 30,000 homes, on the restored mining site in an area of high landscape value close to the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The company says it has revised the proposed site of the anemometer because of environmental concerns.
By Dave Black, The Journal
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