Councillors narrowly voted to support a wind farm described by one as a blight on the Northumberland landscape.
AMEC Project Investment Ltd wants to construct, operate and decommission the Ray Wind Farm, comprising 20 turbines on the Ray Estate, near Otterburn. The site straddles both Alnwick and Tynedale district council boundaries with only four of the turbines, a single control building/substation, a pit area and temporary compound storage area located within the Alnwick administrative boundaries.
The wind farm would generate 60MW of energy. Plans for any on-shore energy installation greater than 50MW are referred to the Department of Trade and Industry where the final decision on the application is made.
Members of Alnwick District Council’s development control committee were consulted for their views on the proposal at a meeting last week.
AMEC representative Nigel Moore told councillors: “Why do we need the turbines?
We are in challenging times. Climate change threatens every aspect of the environment.
“It is not a question now of how we avoid it but rather how we live with the consequences.”
Coun Audrey Jones was concerned about the impact of the wind turbines on the environment and the additional cost the renewable energy would have on consumers.
Colin Ormston, from AMEC, explained how new infrastructure, including roads, would be built on the site so there would be some impact but he said the benefits would outweigh this.
Mr Moore said: “We will try to encourage species back into the 600 hectares of land used in the project. This is a trigger to introduce habitation back into the area. It will be an intensive programme of not just conserving but an opportunity to introduce species back into the area. “In terms of cost, renewable energy will cost more in the short term but the cost of climate change would be much greater.”
Coun Trevor Thorne thought a recent site visit was “excellent,” giving councillors a chance to listen to the noise levels created by turbines. But he found the wind turbines “totally foreign” on the existing landscape.
Coun Jones said: “I was previously against this but I would rather see the wind turbines than pylons. If this is what it takes to save our planet I’m all for it.” Coun Sue Champion disagreed: “I think we are being short sighted, 60MW will do little and its covering 26km square area of land.
“Why are we risking to blight the Northumberland landscape when other energy is available.” Coun Heather Cairns said: “Most of the wind farm is not in our district. The Tynedale council will have more say as it impacts more on their landscape.
“If we don’t support this, as Alnwick District Council we will have to take part in a publ- (article ends)
08 February 2007
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