A decision on the proposed 10 turbine wind farm at Moorsyde, near Shoresdean, was deferred after an eleventh hour intervention by lawyers on Tuesday night.
Planners at Berwick Borough Council had been recommended to approve the controversial application by Your Energy.
However, lawyers acting on behalf of the Moorsyde Action Group (MAG) have asked Government Office North East (GONE) to call in the application for determination by the Secretary of State.
Nearly 200 local residents who had come to Ancroft village hall expecting a stormy debate were left stunned when the meeting adjourned virtually as soon as it started.
Coun Lance Robson, planning committee chairman, said: “The wind farm application will not be considered tonight. It has had to be deferred because of a legal letter that has arrived at the council offices today and the officers need time to consider the implications of that letter.”
Dickinson Dees, a Newcastle-based law firm, were brought in by MAG last week when it emerged the council was recommending approval of the proposal.
Mike Maud, acting MAG chairman, said: “We were really surprised that the officers were recommending approval because there were so many procedures that hadn’t been carried out correctly so we asked Dickinson Dees to put a halt to the process.
“They have contacted GONE and suggested that the proposal needs to be called in and considered by the Secretary of State.”
Your Energy managing director Richard Mardon revealed he had only heard whispers of a likely deferral one hour before the meeting started.
“We are obviously hugely disappointed with the outcome on Tuesday night but we totally understand why the planning committee had no choice to defer in the face of this last minute spurious legal technicality.
“It’s a shame that 100 or more people spent time and money, burning yet more carbon in the process, only to be told that no decision would be made.
“We are prepared to wait but the time to fight this major issue of climate change is limited and we are confident that this technical issue can be cleared before the January planning committee.”
However, MAG hope their tactics will at least delay a decision until a new study on wind farm capacity in Northumberland is published in early February.
“We’re pleased that they are not going ahead with a decision now and hopefully not before this definitive study comes out early next year,” said Mr Maud.
“It would be great if we could sit around a table at that stage with the council, developers, GONE and local people and try to progress with common sense so we can reach some sensible decisions.”
But pro-wind campaigners were left appalled at the deferral.
Joe Lannon, a spokesperson for www @ moorsyde (We Want a Windfarm at Moorsyde) said: “”This is a shameful and deplorable attempt to undermine an irrefutable application and can only be described as desperate NIMBYism.
“This wind farm has mass public support, a recommendation for approval and action is required now to combat climate change. We are confident that the level heads on the planning committee will prevail.”
“The opponents of the wind farm represent a small minority and have consistently tried to find loopholes in the application. Further delays are unacceptable. This is a good scheme and we cannot wait any longer to act in the fight against climate change.”
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