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Wind picks up for 'farm' plan

A bid to site the region’s most powerful wind farm north of Alnwick has cleared its first hurdle, despite fierce objections from residents.

Northumberland County Council this week backed npower renewables’ proposals for a 18-turbine development at Middlemoor, near North Charlton.

But as councillors in Morpeth debated the application, campaigners opposed to the plan flew a blimp to show the height of the proposed turbines and what impact they will have on the landscape.

Also on Tuesday, Alnwick District Council’s development control committee visited the site ahead of members discussing the application on February 27.

The bid is to be determined by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) due to its size but an objection from the district council would trigger a public inquiry ““ a route favoured by objectors.

Coun Wayne Daley, ward member for Cramlington North in Blyth Valley, said: “As a responsible authority we have no other alternative but to support this.

“I take on board what local residents are saying and the impact the turbines will
have on them but they’re not in perpetuity ““ in years to come that site might not be there.”

Barbara Biesterfield, representing more than 200 residents in North and South Charlton, Eglingham and Beanley, urged the council to either object or defer it for further consideration.

She said: “We oppose the development on the grounds of visual impact, landscape character and economic impact. The suggested conclusion that 18 125m-high turbines, in effect a power station of extreme height in a highly visible location, would have no adverse impact on the coastal AONB, beggars belief.”

The DTI has received 160 objections to the application and 40 letters of support. The site is identified in the Structure Plan as an area of “least constraint for wind energy development”.

A report to the county council’s planning and regulation committee said that “no other substantive issues have been identified that conflict with Structure Plan policy such as to outweigh the benefits from additional renewable energy generation that the application would deliver”.

Clare Wilson, npower’s regional development manager, said: “It’s very easy for people to say defer it and ask for another study.

“But do we want to be remembered in 50 years as the community who couldn’t take the decision and couldn’t deal with global warming because the decisions were too controversial.”

After the meeting she said: “It has passed the first hurdle and I hope the district council will follow the lead of the county council.”

Objector Rob Thorp, who helped fly the blimp, said the county council’s decision was “absolutely shameful”.

He said after the meeting: “The county council has completely ignored a great deal of views and the people who have had a lot of input into this. I do hope that the district council will give this a proper airing.”

08 February 2007