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Berwick Borough Council has refused the Wandylaw windfarm planning application from RidgeWind Ltd for 10 turbines, situated near Ellingham, by eight votes to two at a special meeting of the planning committee on Tuesday night.
The reasons given for the refusal of the application included the “detrimental visual impact on north Northumberland”, the cumulative effect had both Wandylaw and Middlemoor windfarms been given the go-ahead, the proposed extension of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB) right up to the A1, and also national security and public safety issues regarding Ministry of Defence radar interference.
In a named vote on a motion to refuse the application, the two councillors who voted against the motion were Coun Douglas and Coun Stewart. All other councillors at the meeting voted in favour of a refusal, much to the delight of the majority of the large audience in attendance at the meeting at Berwick High School.
Late representations were received by the planning committee right up until the morning of the meeting, despite the application having been with the council since August 2006.
The Alnwick Garden, the National Trust, the Commission for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) and the Ministry of Defence were among those with late objections.
The MoD had previously sent two letters stating that they had no objections to the Wandylaw windfarm, but the late representation received on Tuesday morning objected on the grounds that the proposed turbines at Wandylaw would be in the ‘line of sight’ of MoD radar at Brizlee Wood, which would therefore cause ‘unacceptable interference’.
Dominic Coupe, Northumberland chairman of the CPRE, spoke on behalf of a number of objectors at the meeting, including the CPRE, the North Northumberland Tourism Asssociation and Save Nothumberland’s Environment (SANE).
He urged the committee to defer the decision on Wandylaw until the outcome of the public inquiry on the Middlemoor windfarm application.
Mr Coupe said: “Not knowing that decision puts you at a huge disadvantage…to approve this application would be unsafe.”
Planning officers told the committee that they had all the information in front of them to make a decision and that any deferral would probably mean that a decision would not be able to be taken for another year, until the report from the Middlemoor public inquiry was available.
Belford councillor, Geoff O’Connell, representing parish councils, told the committee that they needed to look at the cumulative effects of the Wandylaw and Middlemoor proposals and also urged a deferral.
Coun O’Connell said: “The Middlemoor application is an elephant in this room, it won’t go away.”
Coun David Wilson, in expressing his opinion on the application said: “Visually they (Wandylaw and Middlemoor) are one site and should be considered as one site.”
On the MoD’s objection he added: “National security should come before a windfarm.”
Coun Peter Herdman, in registering his objection to the application said: “We ought to refuse this application on the grounds of total violation of the landscape.”
Coun Richard Patterson, whose ward covers Wandylaw, also stated that the proposed turbines would have a ‘huge impact’ on the landscape and felt that the access to the site, via a junction on the A1, would be a ‘death trap’.
Nigel Goodhew of RidgeWind Ltd was visibly disappointed by the decision, but said he was not in a position to comment on the possibility of an appeal after just hearing the committee’s decision.
By Adam Drummond
24 October 2007
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