County planners are set to join forces with district councils and local residents to object to 42 wind turbines being built north of Hadrian’s Wall.
Northumberland County Council will consider on Tuesday both Amec’s plans for the 20-turbine Ray wind farm near Kirkwhelpington, and Banks’ bid for a further 22 nearby at The Steadings.
Amec’s site is a 2,600-hectare swathe between the villages of Ridsdale and East Woodburn, Knowesgate, Kirkwhelpington and Great Bavington.
Banks is looking to a site west of Great Bavington, covering a total area of 742 hectares stretching from south of Sweethope Loughs.
Both plans feature 125m turbines, each with a generating capacity of around three megawatts.
Because the schemes are both expected to exceed 50MW, the applications will go to the Department of Trade and Industry for a decision.
So far, objections have also been lodged by Kirkwhelpington, Bavington, Birtley and Corsenside parish councils, Northumberland National Park, the RSPB, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, the Natural History Society of Northumbria, the Northumberland and Newcastle Society, North of England Civic Trust and Newcastle Airport.
And on Tuesday, county planning officers will also recommend objecting to both plans.
A third plan, for 18 60-metre turbines on 315 hectares at Green Rigg Fell, Birtley, is also under consideration.
A report to members states: “In the light of the need for public inquiries into the Green Rigg and Ray wind farm applications, the county council has written to the Planning Inspectorate to state that, given the close proximity of the two projects, the county council strongly supports an approach which now brings these two determinations together in a single inquiry.
“Without prejudicing its position, in the event of a public inquiry also being held into the Steadings application, the county council has advised the Planning Inspectorate that it would strongly support an approach that brings the scheme into a joint Inquiry with Green Rigg and Ray.”
Lorna Thornton, who runs Cornhills B&B in the midst of the development sites, says: “These massive structures will be seen from Hadrian’s Wall, the North-East coast and probably as far west as the Solway – 30% of my guests have said they won’t come back to Northumberland if it goes ahead.”
Amec says its wind farm would meet the average needs of 33,500 homes – equivalent to a quarter of households in Northumberland.
Phil Dyke of Banks has said that if their wind farm went ahead, a community fund of at least £50,000 a year for the 25-year life of the development would be set up.
By Robert Brooks
28 April 2007
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