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Planners 'misled' on turbine power  

A company planning a wind farm on a Northumberland moor has been accused of exaggerating the scheme’s benefits.

Renewable energy expert Dr John Constable argued npower renewables had overstated the generation potential of 18 turbines at Middlemoor, near Alnwick.

Dr Constable, director of policy and research for the Renewable Energy Foundation, said the 125-metre turbines near South Charlton would not be able to supply 27,600 homes as stated by the company.

A more realistic figure, he told a public inquiry at Alnwick’s Northumberland Hall, would be less than a third of that – 7,200 homes.

Government planning inspector Alan Novitzky heard that Alnwick District Council officers had been misled on the energy output when arriving at their recommendation last February that no objection be raised to the application, telling councillors 27,000 to 38,000 homes could be supplied.

Their advice was rejected by councillors, triggering npower renewables’ appeal and the inquiry.

Dr Constable said: “A clear and accurate statement of benefits is essential if decision makers are to come to well-reasoned decisions.

“ I have examined the statement of benefits made by the applicants and note that these benefits are inadequately demonstrated, significantly overstated or presented in ways likely to mislead.” The expert, giving evidence for Middlemoor objectors Save Northumberland’s Environment (Sane), arrived at his conclusions on the basis that npower renewables claimed its scheme had the capacity to power 27,600 homes.

The company said it was up to renewable energy suppliers to maximise sites and argued that the output of the turbines could not be calculated until they were in place.

Its representative Marcus Trinick said: “Whether you like it or not, the targets in a regional strategy are phrased in terms of regional capacity.

“You are doing no more in your evidence than to ignore what the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) says and adopt instead the policy of Mr Constable.”

He said Dr Constable’s views had been dismissed by a wind farm inquiry inspector at Den Brook in Devon, and he invited Mr Novitzky to follow that lead.

The inquiry is due to run until the end of next week, with a decision likely early next year.

By Brian Daniel

The Journal

23 November 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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