TYNEDALE councillors have triggered a public inquiry into plans for a fiercely opposed windfarm near Kirkwhelpington.
On Wednesday, members of Tynedale’s development control committee voted to object to Amec’s application to install 20 turbines on Lord Devonport’s Ray Demesne estate.
Chairman Coun. Colin Horncastle summarised the feelings of most of his colleagues when he said he would not be able to sleep at night if he supported the application.
“I don’t want to inflict this on the people living in that area,” he said.
The councillors went against the advice of their own planning officials, who recommended they did not object.
That was on the proviso that plans for four of the turbines, in the most environmentally sensitive area around the Wanney Crags, were dropped.
Because of the size of the proposed development, the application is being handled by the Department for Trade and Industry.
But the objection lodged by the district council ““ only one councillor, Philip Latham, supported the application ““ will automatically switch on the inquiry process.
Councillors and local residents, who turned out in force for the meeting, now want the public inquiry to consider not only the Ray application, but also the cumulative impact of others in the pipeline.
One, from the Banks Group, seeks to install another 22 turbines at nearby Plashetts, in a development commonly referred to as the Steadings. It will also be considered by the DTI.
Another, from Wind Prospect for 20 turbines at Green Rigg, has gone to appeal after the applicant decided it couldn’t wait any longer for a decision from Tynedale Council.
During the meeting, the council’s director of planning Helen Winter said that the councillors couldn’t demand that the DTI investigate all three applications during the same inquiry ““ particularly as the Steadings application has yet to be considered.
However, the committee agreed with her suggestion that a strongly worded letter be sent stating that the Ray and Green Rigg applications could be dealt with together.
Ward councillor for Wanney Coun. Janet Somerville said: “Potentially there could be three large windfarms in this area, and it is utterly pointless to look at just one at a time.
“It provides no over-view on how they would mesh together and their cumulative effect.”
She said the effect on the landscape, tourism and residents’ lives should not be underestimated.
Organisations such as Northumberland National Park, the RSPB, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Newcastle Airport have already lodged objections with the DTI, along with 154 residents.
Speaking on the residents’ behalf, Bill Short, emphasised the visual impact the 390ft-high turbines would have on an environmentally sensitive landscape and the feared impact on tourism.
Speaking for applicant, Amec, Nigel Nicholson said the Hexham-based company had been guided by three principles.
It was keen to minimise the visual impact of the proposed development, it had worked hard to safeguard wildlife habitats, and it was determined to make a positive contribution to the local economy.
He pointed out that the application complied with the North-East Assembly’s regional spatial strategy, Tynedale’s own Local Plan, an environmental report published by consultants Arup and, indeed, the Government’s drive to meet renewable energy targets.
Published on 26/03/2007
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