Wind farms planned for Northumberland would have an “overbearing effect” on the region’s cultural heritage, according to North-East planning chiefs.
The North East Assembly yesterday agreed its position on proposed wind farms at Barmoor and Toft Hill, in Berwick.
Assembly members decided authorities must start to consider the cumulative impact produced by wind farms, and have urged Northumberland councils to consider the proposed sites’ total impact.
The NEA has already written to Berwick Borough Council to say it backs the individual plans in principle but has listed its “serious concerns” over the visual impact of the three sites. Planning officers are concerned that important historic features such as the Duddo Stone Circle and Barmoor Castle could be spoilt if the 15 wind turbines get the go-ahead.
Phil Jones, planning manager at the NEA, warned the combined sites, along with the 10 turbines planned for Moorsyde, could create “a wind farm landscape”.
His reports adds: “Wind energy development could interrupt the openness of the landscape to some extent and would form a dominant focus in a landscape with a strong rural character.”
Considering the impact on the Duddo stone circle, Mr Jones’ report adds: “The openness of views westward from the stone circle would suffer from significant visual impacts.”
Berwick Council hired consultants Scott Wilson to look at the problems created by the two sites together with turbines planned for Moorsyde.
Their report reached similar conclusions to the NEA, but added a recommendation that the Toft Hill application be refused.
Dr John Ferguson, a member of SOUL, a protest group set up against a proposed development at Barmoor, said the move was a step in the right direction.
He said: “Part of the charm of the stones is that they are remote and not easy to access and have unspoilt views.
“These ancient and impressive stones have to be viewed in the context of the landscape and its historic views.
“If these turbines are allowed that context will radically change.”
The NEA also questioned whether developer npower Renewables had properly considered the turbines’ impact on the environment, accusing the energy group of paying “limited regard” to the historic site.
The assembly had commissioned independent consultants to advise on wind farms, who called for the number of turbines to be reduced.
Regional development manager Clare Wilson said: “Final conclusions for the Toft Hill project are still to be drawn, it would therefore be inappropriate for any party to draw conclusions on Duddo Stones until the consultation exercise is complete.”
by Adrian Pearson, The Journal
21 September 2007
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