A joint public inquiry is to be held into three separate wind farm applications in Northumberland.
The Department of Trade and Industry’s announcement that the inquiry would be held for the three proposals on land near Kirkwhelpington was welcomed both by objectors to the proposals and Northumberland County Council.
Peter Bennet, who founded Friends of the Wanneys, a protest group set up to oppose the development plans, said: “Overall, you would have to say that it is good news.
“Now we prepare ourselves for the next round – the fight goes on. This was the result that we always wanted to happen.
“Of course it will now prolong the worry for us all as, effectively, the process starts all over again, in terms of writing letters and doing all we can to protect this landscape.
“A lot will depend on how much money the developers spend on lawyers.
“You hear reports of the top legal teams they are getting and you don’t know how ordinary people and local planners are supposed to stand up against these big sums of money. One hopes that it will be a level playing field.”
The applications are for wind farms at Green Rigg site, the Ray site and the Steadings and cover more than 60 turbines.
Gordon Halliday, divisional director for consumer protection, planning and waste at the county council, said: “We have always said that where several wind farms in an area are due to be considered at public inquiries, they should be combined to allow the overall impact on the area to be fully considered. The inquiry will take an overall look.”
The three schemes were to go to separate public inquiries – one under local authority application procedures and two, because they were larger schemes, under DTI rules.
The Green Rigg bid by developers Wind Prospect, will go to public inquiry because Tynedale Council was unable to deal with it in the allocated time due to its complexity.
Coun Peter Hillman, Leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “We as a council are supportive of renewable energy projects in Northumberland, but any applications must be seen to be in line with the county’s environment and its cultural heritage.”
By Ben Guy
19 May 2007
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