A bid to delay a decision on the Moorsyde wind farm planning application has been thrown out by Berwick Borough Council.
Coun David Lockie from Ford had put forward a motion to defer any wind farm decisions until a new study by consultants Ove Arup is released in late February.
However, the plea was rejected by planners following last-minute legal advice and a special meeting has now been arranged for February 6 where a decision will be made.
Moorsyde Action Group (MAG) member Don Brownlow, from Grievestead, said: “We’re disappointed the planning committee is not prepared to delay a decision until this very important report by Ove Arup is published but it’s not over yet.”
Your Energy’s plan to build a 10 turbine wind farm between Shoresdean and Felkington had been recommended for approval at the December planning meeting but was deferred following after an eleventh hour intervention by MAG lawyers who wanted the application called in by Government Office North East for determination by the Secretary of State.
The council has decided to go-ahead despite receiving another letter from MAG lawyers urging it not to underplay the significance of the Ove Arup report, commissioned by the North East Regional Assembly, which will examine the potential for cumulative landscape and visual impact.
It says the Ove Arup report is specifically being developed with an eye to assisting in resolving applications in areas where there is significant developer interest and where multiple development proposals have come forward.
“In the view of MAG such significant planning applications should not be determined on a ‘first come, first served’ basis prior to such guidance being available,” stated the letter.
“It is readily understandable why an individual applicant, being first in the queue, would encourage the council to determine its application ahead of a broader assessment including alternative sites and cumulative impacts.
“We are not aware of the developer’s stated intentions in the event that the council defers determination pending receipt of Arup Study, but even if it were to appeal against a deemed refusal it would remain open to the applicant to submit a further planning application in the event that the Arup report were favourable to it.”
However, Your Energy contended that there will always be emerging reports of one kind or another and to await its publication – more than two years since the application was submitted – would compromise meeting national renewable energy targets.
Matt Kelly, Moorsyde project manager, said: “Berwick Borough Council commissioned Ferguson McIlveen to do a landscape study to negate the need for the Arup study and they were happy with it.
“That means there have been three consultants’ reports looking at our application and all have given it the thumbs up.
“Planning officers are also recommending approval and apart from a vocal minority the project has backing from the majority of the public.
“We have been ready and waiting for a decision all along. It was only a legal technicality that stopped members from making a decision last time so hopefully after clearing a few hurdles we’re now back where we were in December.”
The special planning committee meeting is due to take place on February 6 at 6pm at Berwick High School, although this is subject to confirmation.
18 January 2007
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