There was speculation last night over who will make the final decision on a major Northumberland wind farm.
The proposal from Amec for the 20-turbine Ray wind farm will be debated tonight by Tynedale councillors.
The 2,600-hectare site is between the villages of Ridsdale and East Woodburn, Knowesgate, Kirkwhelpington and Great Bavington.
Each of the 125m turbines has a generating capacity of three megawatts, and so the 20 add up to 60MW. This takes it over the 50MW mark where applications go to the Department of Trade and Industry for a decision.
But councillors will be recommended to make no objection – subject to the removal of four turbines next to the sensitive landscape of Great Wanney Crag.
This would take the MW figure down to 48, raising the question that the final decision could be made by Tynedale councillors.
Last night, a DTI spokesman said: “It is too early to speculate on what Tynedale Council’s decision will be. The DTI will decide how to proceed once the outcome is known.”
According to Amec, the wind farm would meet the average needs of 33,500 homes – equivalent to a quarter of households in Northumberland. But one protester, environmentalist and Kirkwhelpington resident Bill Short, claimed the wind farm would “blight and devastate” tourism in the area.
He said: “The developers suggest only a few tourists will be put off coming to our area, but local businesses in our area have surveyed tourists who actually visit us find that 80% would be put off by the proposed development.”
A wind farm landscape study by consultants Arup, commissioned by the North-East Assembly and Northumberland, Tynedale and Alnwick councils, found that the Ray zone, with the exception of the Great Wanney Crag area, was capable of accommodating medium development in the nine to 16 turbine range.
Objections have also been lodged by Kirkwhelpington, Bavington, Birtley and Corsenside parish councils, Northumberland National Park, RSPB, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, Natural History Society of Northumbria, Northumberland and Newcastle Society, North of England Civic Trust and Newcastle Airport.
David Hodkinson, managing director of Amec’s wind energy business, said: “We fully expect the DTI to be able to determine the proposal, even if councillors vote to support the scheme subject to the removal of the four turbines.
By Tony Henderson
Environment Editor, The Journal
21 March 2007
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