Question marks were raised yesterday over plans to make council-owned land in Northumberland available to wind farm developers.
In a move aimed at both demonstrating the county council’s `green’ credentials and raising much-needed income, executive members agreed in principle to the use of the authority’s land assets for wind energy generation.
They were told that council-owned land in Cambois near Bedlington has already been earmarked by wind energy companies as suitable for two giant turbines capable of powering up to 6,000 homes.
Yesterday executive members authorised officers to enter negotiations with potential developers with the aim of maximising income to the council.
However, they voiced concern over the possible impact of siting massive turbines too close to homes in south-east Northumberland and asked what benefits local communities would receive in return for wind development on their doorsteps.
Questions were also asked over whether turbines at Cambois would spark objections from Newcastle Airport or the Ministry of Defence because of potential interference with their radar systems and a consequent risk to air safety.
Senior officers say promoting the use of county council land for wind turbines would demonstrate the council’s commitment to green energy and help raise income.
Yesterday executive member, Coun Jim Wright, said Northumberland was the most sparsely populated county in England and there was no need to site wind turbines close to people’s homes. “I welcome this agenda but is it right to locate turbines so close to communities when there are opportunities to put them far from communities.”
Coun John Smith said there could be public scepticism over the use of council land for turbine development unless it could be shown that the local communities would benefit from wind energy.
Head of regeneration, Alan Wann, said two companies had expressed interest in sites at Cambois, near the A189 spine road, where wind speeds justified investment in electricity-generating turbines.
He added: “The developers would provide the capital costs and hold the risks and it would give a clear message that the county council is committed to this agenda, while also bringing in a modest income.
“In anything like this there is going to be public opinion but we want to explore the potential. We would look to direct benefits to local communities.
“The question of radar used by Newcastle Airport and the MoD is a key issue but we feel those problems could be overcome.”
By Dave Black
13 March 2007
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