A huge wind farm would give the Northumberland hills a “sculptural quality”, a power company expert has claimed.
Giving evidence to a public inquiry being held into the proposed development of 18 turbines at South Charlton near Alnwick, landscape consultant Jeffrey Stevenson said the development would not harm the landscape.
Speaking from his report prepared for Npower Renewables, the firm behind the development, he said: “The wind farm would, in my professional opinion, introduce a strong sculptural quality to the landscape.
“It would add to the atmosphere, add to the sense of place and the landscape identity and distinctiveness. The wind farm would appear reasonable balanced, controlled, visually permeable, well related to the broad scale and grain of the landscape and would introduce a positive image which would add to the landscape experience.”
Hundreds of people in the area have opposed the wind farm plans, saying that the turbines would be a blot on the landscape that would affect tourism businesses in the area. Mr Stevenson admitted that, if “used negatively”, the development could be seen to have “a significant adverse effect” on part of the landscape.
But he added it was his belief that the local and wider landscape would not be “materially harmed” by the wind farm.
The issue of the visual impact of the wind farm on the landscape, and on listed buildings, had already been raised. Challenging evidence given by Npower planning consultant David Stewart, Robert Thorp, district councillor for the area affected, said that the visual impact had been underestimated by Npower.
He said “The church at South Charlton is 1,500 metres away from the nearest turbine and he makes the point that the church is screened from view. But in fact you can stand looking at the church from a different angle and you’ll be looking upwards at a turbine that is only 1,500 metres away.
“The emphasis is biased and I find that in a lot of visual cases I have looked at.”
Responding, Mr Stewart said: “For most of the views when you are looking at the church the turbines will be behind you.”
Planning Inspector Alan Novitzky also questioned Mr Stewart, pointing out that even if the turbines were obscured they would still have an effect on the experience on someone walking through the area. But Mr Stewart said that listed buildings were often given that status because of their own intrinsic values, not because of their surroundings.
But he said: “If you can identify that something is listed with the setting in mind that elevates the reason for it being listed.”
The inquiry continues today.
By Ben Guy
15 November 2007
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