A plan to ensure communities in Alnwick district benefit financially if wind farms are built was given the green light this week, amid claims of blackmail.
Alnwick District Council backed a framework to make sure funding from developers is directed to areas most affected.
But members changed the recommendations to ensure councillors, instead of unelected bodies, have a greater role in determining where the money is spent.
Officers told the operations executive committee that the issue was separate to the planning process.
A public inquiry into plans to build an 18-turbine wind farm at Middlemoor, near North Charlton, was completed last month but will be some time before a decision is made.
If approved, developer npower renewables pledges to contribute £1.3million to a community fund over the 25-year lifespan of the plant.
Committee vice-chairman Coun Hugh Philipson said: “I don’t like blackmail and in my opinion this is a form of blackmail.”
Paul Gee, the council’s director of environment and regeneration, said: “This has nothing to do with blackmail and buying planning permission but is about us being ready and prepared if a wind farm is approved.
“This is about us being in a position of strength rather than on the back foot.”
Officers suggested the Community Foundation for Tyne and Wear and Northumberland could manage the funds with input from the Alnwick Area Partnership, which would then nominate an interim panel to advise the foundation.
Coun Elisabeth Haddow said: “We are elected to see to the benefits and good of the people of this district and it would be very remiss of us to hand it over to an unelected body to choose the panel to decide where this money goes.”
Members agreed that the council will be involved in the process.
AROUND 400 homes and businesses in the Wooler area suffered power cuts on Monday after a swan flew into an overhead cable. The fault has been repaired.
11 January 2008
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