Europe’s tallest onshore wind turbine so far is on its way to the Northumberland coastline after plans for a major new wind farm were given the green light last night.
The monster machine – which will tower 163 metres from base to blade tip and be more than twice as high as Nelson’s Column – will be built on the north bank of the River Blyth at Battleship Wharf, near the village of Cambois.
It will be one of seven new turbines – the other six each standing 125m high – which will replace the existing nine turbines at the Blyth Harbour wind farm, which has been producing renewable power since 1993.
Last night members of Wansbeck District Council’s regulatory committee voted virtually unanimously to approve an application by site owner Hainsford Energy for the massive new structures along Blyth’s east pier.
They took the decision despite an objection from Newcastle Airport bosses, who feel the turbines will be too tall and could threaten air safety by interfering with the airport’s radar system.
Airport officials say the situation could force them to re-route aircraft away from the structures, and claim that safety fears mean the application should be rejected. However, councillors agreed to grant permission after being told that the airport has been unable to produce any technical evidence to support its concerns.
In comparison, Hainsford Energy commissioned world-leading aviation safety consultants QneticQ, who concluded that the turbines would have ‘minimal’ impact on the airport’s operations.
Last night’s meeting was told that objections have also been received from residents in the hamlet of North Blyth, who say two of the proposed turbines will be too close to their homes.
But councillors said they were surprised at the lack of objections from members of the public, given the massive size of the new structures.
The council’s senior planning officer, Richard Gee, said he understood the Battleship Wharf turbine would be the tallest land-based turbine in Europe so far.
He said the Hainsford Energy plan had received widespread support from regional agencies, who felt it would enhance the area’s growing reputation as a hub for renewable energy research and development.
Local ward councillor Alex Wallace said: “Applications like this help to put our district on the international map.”
The re-powered site – to be known as the Wansbeck Blyth Harbour Wind Farm – will meet about 10% of Northumberland’s target for renewable energy capacity by 2010 and produce enough electricity to power 11,600 homes.
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Council aims to make sure its communities benefit
A COUNCIL has vowed to look more closely at how the public might benefit from future wind farm development in Northumberland, following changes to planning rules.
The operations executive committee of Alnwick District Council met last night to consider the alterations to current controls which will make it possible to force contributions to town projects.
The council had been looking into a scheme which could see around £100,000 a year paid to residents’ groups in return for planning permission for wind energy schemes.
And last night members unanimously voted that the chief executive should prepare a detailed proposal for a formal community benefits scheme, to be submitted for approval by the Alnwick Area Partnership, subject to consultation with Alnwick District Council.
The committee also promised to try and seek a legal agreement between developers of wind energy and planning authorities which would secure their commitment to delivering benefits to the Alnwick community.
It was also agreed that the Community Foundation for Tyne and Wear and Northumberland should be invited to prepare a financial management agreement for such a scheme, as well as negotiate with wind turbine developers in order to maximise any potential benefit to residents.
By Dave Black
9 January 2008
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