Protesters last night welcomed news that a council is set to oppose the latest in a series of planned wind farms in rural Northumberland.
Energy firm Banks Development wants to build 22 turbines, each up to 125 metres high, on Plashetts Farm between Kirkwhelpington and Throckington, Northumberland.
The development, which the company says would provide enough energy for 37,000 homes every year, is one of the biggest proposals submitted by different energy firms looking to build wind farms in the area.
But Peter Bennet, who founded Friends of the Wanneys, a protest group set up against the proposed wind farms, applauded the officers who have recommended that councillors object to the bid for planning permission.
He said: “It is encouraging that other proposals have been turned down by Tynedale Council, but of course they will now go to a public inquiry.
“It is very heartening to know that you have the support of the council and I have been impressed by the planning process.”
But he added that “the worry goes on” for people living in the area.
He said: “The goalposts keep shifting and all the time you hear that more scoping is being carried out.
“They are not going away but are swarming round this area in a very worrying way.
“I started off trying to defend this particular piece of landscape and I won’t give up trying to do that. You start to think about what Northumberland will be like if even half these applications are approved.
“They have no place on land, they should be offshore but such is the greed surrounding wind farms that they keep swarming round.”
Mr Bennet said that the protest group had swelled to about 70 people, including both those living nearby and people living further away.
The 742 hectare development would also include almost 14 kilometres of access roads and an on-site electrical connection building. It would take about 18 months to build.
Council officers have compiled a report that recommends that the Development Control Committee objects to planning permission at its meeting next week.
Reasons for this include that the development would cause “demonstrable harm in landscape and visual terms” and would have “an adverse impact on the special historic and architectural character” of certain buildings in the area.
The council has also received 50 letters from members of the public opposing the plans.
Rob Williams, project manager at Banks Developments, said: “The recommendation by Northumberland County Council to object to our Steadings Wind Farm proposals has ensured that there will be a public inquiry into the scheme.
“This will inevitably delay the production of renewable energy in Northumberland and prevent Northumberland meeting it renewable energy targets.
“However, we have always been supportive of calls by members of the public for a joint public inquiry involving the three schemes in this area and we have added our request for this to happen to those already received by the DTI.”
By Ben Guy
18 May 2007
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