The latest bid to build a windfarm near Kirkwhelpington has been opposed by Tynedale Council.
The development, one of three applications submitted in the area, would see 22 wind turbines, each 125 metres high, built on land at Steadings near Plashetts.
The scheme follows plans from Wind Prospect Developments for an 18-turbine windfarm on Green Rigg Fell and a proposal from Hexham-based AMEC for a 20-turbine development on the Ray Estate, both near Kirkwhelpington.
The Steadings plan has attracted fierce opposition from residents of neighbouring Great Bavington, Thockrington and Kirkwhelpington, many of whom were at a meeting of Tynedale Council’s development control committee on Wednesday night.
Their concerns were reflected by councillors who voted to agree with the recommendation that the Steadings development would “cause demonstrable harm in landscape and visual terms”.
The committee also felt that the size of the plans “exceeded the carrying capacity of the landscape, when taken in isolation and when taken cumulatively with the proposed Green Rigg and Ray windfarms”.
The adverse impact on the character of the Grade II listed church of St Aidan at Thockrington was cited as a reason for objection along with the unresolved issue of whether the turbines would disturb radar systems at Newcastle Airport.
At the meeting the director of applicants Banks Development Mr Phil Dyke said: “I am well aware of the issues and the amount of concern surrounding this application.
“We are not pleased to have received 55 letters of objection, but the fact that 65 people have written in support of the application speaks for itself.”
John Fenwick, who spoke on behalf of the six land owners involved with the project, said he felt it would secure the future of the farming community and reminded the meeting that the original application proposing 35 turbines had been scaled down considerably.
Mr Fenwick said: “The area is well suited to renewable energy and in my opinion a living countryside is much more favourable than a dying one.”
He was backed by Coun. Jennifer McGee who said: “I think the benefits of this application far outweigh any bad points and it’s Tynedale and Northumberland’s chance to do their bit in the grand scheme of things.
“We say we are trying to protect and preserve the area we live in, but opposing plans like this won’t protect it from global warming.”
But Coun. Colin Horncastle described the turbines as “alien structures on an ancient landscape” and said he couldn’t support the application.
He said: “The ongoing arguments about climate change have got nothing to do with this committee, we are simply interested in how this development would impact on Tynedale.”
And Coun. Anne Dale added: “I am not opposed to renewable energy, but we must be sure that an application like this is the right development in the right place, and I feel that this isn’t right for the area.”
Covering 742 hectares the Steadings development would provide enough electricity to supply 37,000 homes a year for up to 25 years.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced last week that the Steadings Windfarm, along with the proposed Ray Estate and Green Rigg developments will go to public inquiry.
The ultimate decision on each project lies with the DTI and the council was merely being consulted for its views.
The decision follows news of two Government White Papers this week, the first on planning which could see decisions on large projects being made by an independent commission and a second proposing more government support for wind technology.
By Gemma Somerville
25 May 2007
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