Campaigners fighting plans to build a wind farm in north Northumberland have spoken of their surprise that the decision will go ahead before a key report is published.
Moorsyde Action Group (MAG) ““ which is opposed to the proposed ten-turbine development south of Berwick ““ says it is “extraordinary” that the application is to go to committee early next month.
Members of Berwick Borough Council’s planning committee last week failed to consider a motion to defer wind farm applications until the release of a landscape impact study, commissioned by the North East Assembly.
The council said the assembly advised members that it is not essential for planning authorities to wait for the completion of the study before it make a decision on an application.
An MAG spokesman said: “It seems quite extraordinary that the opportunity to make an informed decision is being rejected because the borough will not countenance three weeks’ delay to an application that has been with the planners for two years.
“It is a pity that our planning authority is prepared to rush to judgement on a single application and, in so doing, jeopardise the results of the Arup study and the sensible siting and scaling of all wind farms in the borough.
“They seem more concerned to defend the council’s short term interests than in bringing “an objective insight” to the decision-making process and safeguarding the future of our landscape and local communities.”
Your Energy Ltd’s applications is to be discussed on Tuesday, February 6.
Coun Lance Robson, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said: “Members are persuaded that we do have sufficient information in respect of the Moorsyde application and therefore we are obliged to proceed to a decision in the interests of all.”
Malcolm Bowes, deputy chief executive of the North East Assembly, said:”We believe that this study will be a helpful tool but it does not form the sole basis for decision-making.
“It is not essential for the local authority to wait for the completion of the study before they make a decision on an application.
“If the council is satisfied that they have sufficient information to undertake a decision prior to the study then they should move forward.
“However, if they feel that the additional level of information provided by the study would be useful and would supplement that provided within environmental statements, then they have the option of waiting.”
The developer has welcomed that there will not be a further delay.
Richard Mardon, managing director, said: “The Arup report is not intended to be policy, nor a statutory planning document.
“We feel the council has decided correctly on this issue and we look forward to a positive decision on the Moorsyde application.”
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