Wind farm developers have been left disappointed and baffled by Berwick Borough Council’s decision to further delay a decision on its 10 turbine proposal for Moorsyde.
Your Energy had been hoping its application to build the 360 feet high turbines between Ancroft and Felkington would be approved, as recommended by planning officers, at a special meeting on February 6. However, the council has bowed to public pressure and, on legal advice, decided to commission consultants to look at the cumulative impact of wind farms.
Richard Mardon, managing director of Your Energy, said: “We are deeply disappointed and baffled by this further delay and are still trying to investigate the reasons behind it.
“Three consultants have already been hired by the council to review our project, at a cost to the council tax payer. Cumulative impact – which seems to be the latest spurious concern raised – has never applied to our project because ours was the first proposal in the area.
“During its excessively long time in the planning system subsequent projects have been submitted – these projects would need to evaluate this cumulative issue and we assume that they have done so. This latest delay really makes no sense at all.
“Our project has been in the planning system for over two years, but projects such as these should be determined within four months. We have already granted three time extensions and have been very patient ““ we hope we can work with the council to quickly resolve this issue.”
The news will please opponents who had urged the council not to make a decision until a new study by Arup, which also examines cumulative impact, is published at the end of this month.
However, Moorsyde Action Group (MAG) remains concerned that local people will be subjected to further damaging and costly delays before the application is decided.
“The onus for providing the required level and quality of information on environmental impacts rests with the applicants not the council,” said a MAG spokesman.
“Your Energy Ltd have repeatedly failed to provide appropriate information in relation to a number of key issues that were identified in an independent audit of their Environmental Statement that reported well over a year ago.
“After more than two years in the system and after numerous opportunities to address the clearly identified shortcomings of their application, the applicants have surely been given sufficient opportunity to remedy these issues.
“The fact that they have chosen not to should not be used as a reason to extend consideration of the application, and the planning blight that it is causing to local communities, for any longer than is absolutely necessary.
“We would urge the local authority to consider this application as soon as possible, taking full account of the imminent Arup Report and also the failure of the applicants to provide adequate environmental impact information as clearly required by planning guidance and as requested by both consultees and an independent audit of the application.”
Your Energy claims its project would provide clean, renewable energy for around 10,000 households – the majority of Berwick Borough.
Dr Joe Lannon, on behalf of www@Moorsyde (We Want a Windfarm at Moorsyde), said: “With less than two weeks before the meeting that could propel Berwick district into the premier league of councils who are actually taking climate change seriously, it seems that they have bowed to more threats of legal challenges.
“It is disappointing and rather scary that such an important issue has once again failed to be addressed. Moorsyde alone would produce enough clean electricity for the whole district and surely by now people realise that we cannot wait to reverse the damage power stations have done to the environment.”
Berwick Borough Council said that in light of the considerable focus and debate on this matter, it considered it prudent to seek further general Counsel opinion about the application.
“Counsel has advised us that further work needs to be carried out in relation to the issue of cumulative impact,” said a spokesman. “Whilst the council has considered this as part of the previous work carried out, it is the advice of Counsel that further work needs to be carried out before a decision can be made on the application.
“We have therefore taken the decision to defer the application whilst this work takes place. The additional information which will be obtained should provide more detailed evidence on which a robust decision can be made. This must be in the best interests of all concerned.
“The council will scope out and commission the additional work as soon as we can but it is not possible to identify a clear timetable as yet for the application’s ultimate determination.”
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