A wind farm proposal for rural Northumberland needs to be considerably scaled down to avoid becoming a blight on the landscape, according to a study released yesterday.
Developer npower renewables submitted plans to Tynedale Council last year for a six-turbine, 12 megawatt, wind farm on land near Kiln Pit Hill, near Slaley, close to the Northumberland/County Durham border.
But the study carried out on behalf of the North East Assembly by Arup with White Consultants concluded that only a small wind farm with an output of less than 7.5 megawatts should be allowed. A megawatt is enough to power between 600 and 1,000 homes. The Regional Wind Farm Development Study assesses the impact of a potential wind farm to help planners decide whether to give it the green light.
It says there is “limited scope for development” at Kiln Pit Hill and any wind farm should be at least one-and-a-half miles east from the summit.
Malcolm Bowes, deputy chief executive of the North East Assembly, said: “This cutting edge study provides an objective assessment of the impact that wind farm development would have on the Kiln Pit Hill landscape and has concluded that extensive development is not appropriate. While we are committed to ensuring that the region plays a positive part in contributing to tackling global climate change, we have to balance this against unacceptable landscape impacts.”
A spokeswoman for npower renewables said she was unable to comment on the findings of the report as the company had not been consulted. But she added: “We have included a detailed environmental impact assessment with our submission which looks at all the factors of the site.
“The Arup study is purely based on landscape and the local authority has to decide whether what Arup has done is superceded by the detail in our application.”
Tynedale Council has been awaiting the outcome of the study before considering the planning application and head of planning Helen Winter said: “The application will be carefully considered against national, regional, sub-regional and local planning policies.
“As part of this process we will look closely at the environmental impact assessment and other evidence provided by the developer, statutory consultees and the local community. What this study adds is an objective insight into the capacity of the surrounding area to absorb this type of development.”
The North East Assembly, together with Tynedale Council and Shotley Low Quarter Parish Council, will be arranging a public meeting to discuss the findings.
Opposition to the plans has already come from English Heritage and the partnership covering the nearby North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Newcastle Airport bosses have also lodged an objection, saying the turbines would interfere with their aircraft-tracking devices.
By Hayley Beattie, The Journal
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