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County objects to windfarm proposals

The multiple applications for windfarms in the Knowesgate area should all go to one single public inquiry.

That’s the view of Northumberland County Council planners, who on Tuesday lodged formal objections to two of the latest applications for sites in the heart of the Wanney hills.

A public inquiry is already pending into Tynedale Council’s failure to determine another application in the same area ““ so councillors feel that the fate of all the applications should be determined by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry personally.

A county council spokesman said: “Both applications were considered and the committee supported the officers’ view that the county council object to both applications.

“The county council has further requested that the Government should hold a single joint public inquiry to determine all applications in the Knowesgate area so that the overall impact can be assessed.”

The ultimate decision on the two latest applications ““ one by Hexham-based AMEC on the Ray Estate near Kirkwhelpington and the other by the Banks Group on a site at Plashetts, west of Great Bavington ““ already lies with Department of Trade and Industry.

The county council is merely being consulted for its views.

The application on Lord Devonport’s Ray Estate is for 20 wind turbines, each 125 metres high to the tip of the blade and generating three megawatts of power.

The site is also crossed by the C195 road that runs from Knowesgate westwards towards West Woodburn and four of the proposed turbines are sited south of this road, close to Great Wanney Crag.

The committee decided to object to the application as a whole because of “the adverse impact on landscape character of these four turbines.”

The Banks proposal was for 22 turbines ““ each with a generating capacity of between 2.3 and three megawatts ““ on land to the west of Great Bavington and south of Kirkwhelpington.

The committee objected to the scheme on the grounds that “the proposed turbines, due to their scale, would have an adverse impact on the landscape character of the area” and that six of the turbines would have an unacceptable visual impact on the setting of the Grade II listed Church of St Aidan at Thockrington.

The application that Tynedale failed to determine in time by energy firm Wind Prospect at Green Rigg is already going to an inquiry.

Campaigner Peter Bennet, who lives near the Wanney Crags, and was at the county council meeting on Tuesday said: “I think the county councillors got it absolutely right; they rejected both proposals on very good grounds.

“I’m particularly pleased that local members were so resilient to the arguments being put by the windfarm developers.

“Now it will be interesting to see what happens in the run up to the public inquiry, which will now be sparked automatically due to the size of the developments and the council’s objections. I’m told it could take two to three years to set up such an inquiry.”

By Will Green


4 May 2007