Proposals to make council-owned land in Northumberland available to wind farm developers have moved a step closer to becoming a reality.
Council officials agreed in principle to the use of the authority’s land assets at Cambois for wind turbines last month, despite admitting concerns over the possible impact on the local community.
However, a recommendation that the council look into producing energy themselves was dismissed after it was argued that it was not part of the council’s “core business”.
Executive members at Northumberland County Council held a further meeting about the production of renewable energy last week, after the council’s scrutiny committee raised concerns over the “lack of information” given to members.
Coun Lesley Rickerby, chairman of strategic services overview and scrutiny committee, said in a report there was too much emphasis on wind turbine energy rather than “all forms of sustainable energy”.
The committee recommended that the county council look into the possibility of producing the energy themselves as an “invest to save scheme”.
However, Peter Hillman, deputy leader of the county council, said funding for an investigation into such a scheme was not possible.
“The generation of electricity is not core business and capital investments could not be considered at this stage,” he said.
“We would be putting human resources into the investigation whereby we’ve got other priorities we have to deal with.
“It’s about using the resources we’ve got.”
David Vaughan, vice-chairman of the scrutiny committee, said: “I’m disappointed the county council can’t see a way of investigating the possibility of doing the job themselves, because in the long-run it could turn out that we would have been able to do that more efficiently than a developer.
“It’s not going to cost a lot of money to do an investigation as to whether we can do it.”
Members agreed that a further presentation on the issue was needed from the Northumberland Renewable Energy Group (NREG).
The leader of the council, Bill Brooks, said: “I was very impressed by the presentation on renewables and the council’s need to take a lead on the issue.
“Renewable energy is very much a big issue in the county.
“Mostly factors on where wind turbines might be built, this is very much at the forefront of many people’s thoughts.
“We need to get NREG in here and get that presentation.”
5 April 2007
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