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Turbines set to be rejected

Parachuters at a threatened aerodrome look set to fight off a third attempt to build a wind farm nearby.

Peterlee Parachute Centre fears it would have to stop jumps at its airfield in Shotton Colliery if the go-ahead is given to build two 111-metre tall turbines at Edder Acres farm.

A7 Energy’s original plans were refused in 2005 and a subsequent appeal rejected.

Centre boss Ian Rosenvinge and the British Parachute Association argued it would have meant imposing additional safety restrictions over fears jumpers could be blown into the turbines’ blades, putting the viability of the airfield at risk.

Now Easington District Council’s development control committee will consider a resubmitted application at a meeting on Thursday.

Planning officers have recommended refusal on the grounds that it would jeopardise the future of the airfield, which hosts the only parachute centre between Bridlington and Scotland.

They said: “The information submitted in support of this resubmission is not considered sufficient to overcome the concerns which led to the previous decision made by the council.”

Mr Rosenvinge, an ex-Army skydiver who has invested £750,000 since he bought the airfield in 1996, said he hoped “common sense would prevail” and councillors would reject the scheme.

The application hinges on a risk assessment, which was not in its original proposal.

A7 has claimed the risk to parachutists was previously overstated.

It believes the chances of a jumper whose automatic activation device fires during a problem fall, therefore bringing them to a low level over Edder Acres, would be a “negligible” one-in-25million.

However, Mr Rosenvinge said the risk assessment had been done by people who were not experts in parachuting.

“If it happens over Edder Acres they would die. I can’t take that chance,” he said.

The planning application has also been opposed by Sport England, East Durham Business Service and Durham Bat Group.

Sunderland Echo

10 November 2007