An independent study into wind farm development in Berwick Borough has concluded that the area can potentially accommodate 10 to 15 turbines.
The long-awaited Wind Farm Development and Landscape Capacity Study by Arup sets out a number of possible scenarios for wind farm development in the borough, but recommends a much reduced scale of development and highlights the importance of protecting the landscape and local communities by better siting of turbines.
With Berwick Borough Council already considering four wind farm proposals totalling 36 turbines the study’s findings mean there could be bad news in store for some developers.
Shona Alexander, director of regeneration at Berwick Borough Council, said: “We welcome this study which gives us an objective view of the impact which wind farm developments could have here in Berwick Borough where we have some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country.
“We will now include the study in our assessments of all four wind farm planning applications currently being considered.”
These are Your Energy’s proposal for 10 turbines at Moorsyde, near Ancroft, RidgeWind’s proposal for 10 turbines at Wandylaw, near Ellingham, Catamount/Force 9’s proposal for nine turbines at Barmoor, near Lowick and npower renewables’ plan for seven turbines at Toft Hill, near Duddo.
The study has been given a cautious welcome by wind farm protesters concerned about the cumulative impact of several wind farms on the north Northumberland landscape.
A spokesman for Moorsyde Action Group (MAG) said: “This is obviously a large and complex study which we all need time to consider, but it does seem to confirm our long-held view that this area cannot support the scale and location of development that Your Energy Ltd, the Moorsyde developers, and others are attempting to force on it.
“We particularly welcome its recognition that poorly designed turbine arrays that are not properly scaled and located will have major adverse impacts not only on the landscape but also on the living conditions of local people. The report highlights the settled nature of this area and the need to respect this when formulating proposals.
“It is to be hoped that the Borough and developers will now take the opportunity afforded by consultations on the findings of this report to engage constructively with local people and their representatives and to look again at the real impacts of wind turbine proposals on the landscape and local communities.”
The study has been compiled using the award-winning methodology that was developed by Arup with White Consultants on behalf of the North East Assembly to assess the impact of wind farms on the landscape.
The study identifies a range of scenarios based on differing levels of potential, ranging from 30MW to 70MW.
Malcolm Bowes, deputy chief executive for the North East Assembly said: “This cutting edge study provides an objective assessment of the impact that wind farm development would have on the south and west of Berwick landscape and has concluded that high levels of development would not be appropriate.
“The study assesses the ability of landscapes to support wind development. Whilst we are committed to ensuring that the region plays a positive part in contributing to tackling global climate change this has to be balanced against unacceptable landscape impacts.”
Eileen Richardson from www@Moorsyde (We Want a Windfarm at Moorsyde) said: “This detailed and highly technical study now confirms what we have all known for a long time that the Moorsyde site is the best in the whole area for a wind farm.
“When compared to the other two sites evaluated, Moorsyde performed best in terms of visual impact and was the only proposal to blend into a single landscape zone. The landscape was shown to be the most suitable for a wind farm up to around 18MW.
“This definitive study should now give the council all the information it requires to grant planning permission for the Moorsyde wind farm, which will provide clean electricity for 10,000 homes. It should also ease the concerns of those people that think if Moorsyde gets consented then hundreds of other wind farms would follow. The Arup study clearly shows that only two wind farms of around 40MW can be accommodated in the area south-west of Berwick.”
By Ian Smith
20 June 2007
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