Tempers flared last night after a wind farm hearing in Northumberland ground to a halt amid threats of legal action against borough planners.
More than 200 people had packed Ancroft village hall almost to capacity to hear details of an application for 10 turbines on nearby Moorsyde.
The controversial scheme had attracted massive publicity, with hundreds of letters of objection and the authority recommending approval.
But within two minutes of the start of the meeting of Berwick Borough Council’s planning committee, chairman Lance Robson announced that a letter from solicitors acting on behalf of protesters from Moorsyde Action Group had forced him to defer the proceedings. And as objectors to wind farm developers and their backers left the hall, there were angry words exchanged outside and accusations of half truths, distortion and outright lies levelled by both parties at each other.
Moorsyde Action Group spokesman Mike Maud said its members were disappointed not to be able to put their case before the committee, but were relieved the application had been deferred in light of their legal representations.
He said MAG was challenging the wind farm application as it had doubts about whether or not proper process had been followed correctly by the developer. It also had concerns about procedural matters.
Mr Maud said: “A letter has also gone to the Government Office North-East calling for the whole process of wind farm development in Northumberland to be carefully re-examined.” But Dr Joe Lannon, a local resident and lecturer in renewable energy studies, could barely conceal his frustration at MAG’s legal threat.
Embroiled in a heated face-to-face exchange with Mr Maud, he said the majority of people in Berwick want this wind farm but said he feared MAG may be “twisting the truth”.
Following further tense words, Mr Richard Mardon, managing director of wind farm company Your Energy, told The Journal: “We’ve been in the planning system with Moorsyde for two years. We’ve carried out three different consultations and worked very hard to try and meet strict targets.
“It is very frustrating that the committee was forced to defer its decision, which was a recommendation to approve because of this.”
A date will be set for a rescheduled meeting in due course.
By Rober Brooks, The Journal
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