Planners at two neighbouring councils could soon be at loggerheads over a bid to develop a major wind farm next to one of Northumberland’s biggest employers.
ScottishPower wants to erect 13 giant turbines – each measuring 121m from base to rotor blade tip – on farmland west of the Alcan smelting complex at Lynemouth.
Because the site straddles the boundary between Castle Morpeth and Wansbeck, the company has had to seek planning permission from both local authorities to build up to seven turbines in each area.
In April, Castle Morpeth councillors rejected the application following strong protests from residents and parish councillors, who claim the turbines will dominate the skyline, bring no employment benefits and hamper regeneration efforts.
But tomorrow, Wansbeck councillors will be recommended by their planning officers to approve the ScottishPower bid, despite opposition from nearby villagers and three parish councils.
It would leave the company in the unusual position of having permission to develop half of the £35m installation but needing to appeal or submit revised plans to get approval for the other half.
Planning officers in Castle Morpeth opposed the bid because the 13 turbines would be over-dominant and change the character of the flat local landscape. However, their counterparts in Wansbeck say the structures would be acceptable in close proximity to the Alcan smelting and power complex, which already has eight 80m-high chimneys and one 114m-high.
In a report to tomorrow’s regulatory committee they say the area near Alcan has been designated as suitable for a medium-size wind farm and the scheme will help meet a huge gap in renewable energy generation in the region.
Objections to the Wansbeck application have come from parish councils in Lynemouth, Ellington and Cresswell and residents in the village of Woodhorn, who would only be 1km from the nearest turbine.
They say the turbines will be huge and have a devastating visual impact across a vast area.
They also claim the wind farm will be too close to homes in Woodhorn, threaten bird life and hit local regeneration efforts.
Yesterday, retired offshore worker Tom Oliver, who chairs the Woodhorn Village Residents’ Association, said: “These turbines are going to impact on the visual amenity of the communities around them and will be here for 25 years or more.
“Just because the Alcan chimneys are already there, why do we have to add insult to injury by having more visual pollution.”
The report to tomorrow’s meeting says ScottishPower has presented a sound case for the development.
“The decision has to be considered against effects on visual impact, and it has been argued that while the wind farm is to be developed in open farmland, it is against a backdrop of a substantial industrial undertaking in the form of Alcan.”
By Dave Black
6 June 2007
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