Calls were made yesterday for a public debate on Northumberland’s ability to absorb the large numbers of giant wind turbines threatening to spring up across its landscape.
Concern is growing that wind energy proposals are being dealt with on a piecemeal
It came as the county’s planning and regulation committee agreed to raise no strategic objection to the application by Oxfordshire-based RidgeWind Ltd to erect 10 turbines at Wandylaw Moor.
Last month, the committee also agreed to support npower renewable’s bid for 18 turbines at Middlemoor after being advised by officers that there are no planning grounds for opposing it.
A public inquiry will now be held into the Middlemoor scheme after Alnwick District Council voted last week to oppose it. If Berwick Borough Council rejects the Wandylaw proposal – and RidgeWind Ltd appeals – there would be a separate public inquiry into that scheme.
Yesterday, Alnwick councillor John Taylor told the committee that erecting 28 huge turbines on plots of land separated by a farm fence would effectively create the biggest single wind farm in England. He said his authority had objected to the Middlemoor scheme so that wind energy policies could be tested at a public inquiry and the same argument applied to Wandylaw. “Otherwise we will have a range of turbines stretching about 10km up that whinstone ridge and the impact on the landscape will be substantial.”
Coun John Whiteman said because of opposition to turbines from Newcastle Airport and the Ministry of Defence on air safety grounds, there were only limited areas of Northumberland where they could be built. “I really think we need a public debate on what we are willing to accept, where we are willing to accept them, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in Northumberland. Perhaps we could approach One NorthEast,” he added.
Last night, South Charlton farmer Robert Thorp, part of the campaign against the Middlemoor and Wandylaw schemes, said: “That sounds like a very good idea to me because we need to go back to the start and review the whole issue.
“At present we are going down a road driven by developers and landowners instead of doing what is best for the county. We have been given a target for renewable energy and it is having to be squeezed into an area of high landscape value which won’t be able to carry it.”
By Dave Black
7 March 2007
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