People in a cluster of former mining villages fear they are about to be invaded by huge wind turbines after plans for a mini-windfarm on the Northumberland coast were approved by the Government.
Harworth Power – an offshoot of UK Coal, which owned nearby Ellington Colliery – will be allowed to put up three 110m turbines on the former coal stocking area next to the seaside village of Lynemouth.
Government planning inspector John Braithwaite has allowed the company’s appeal against Castle Morpeth Council’s decision last April to refuse planning permission for the structures.
Mr Braithwaite, who conducted a public inquiry in Lynemouth last month, has concluded that the turbines will not harm the look of the coastal area or hamper regeneration efforts.
Now disappointed villagers in Lynemouth, Ellington, Linton and Cresswell fear the decision makes it more likely that a bigger windfarm – of 13 turbines surrounding the nearby Alcan aluminium smelter – will also be approved by the Government.
The Scottish Power project for 121m turbines was also rejected by Castle Morpeth councillors last year, but the company has appealed and a public inquiry will be held in April.
Many local people have opposed the windfarms, saying they will bring no jobs and stifle efforts to regenerate an area still suffering from the demise of deep mining.
Cath Davidson, who chairs Lynemouth Parish Council and the local partnership group Cell, said the Harworth Power decision had come as no surprise.
“They just see us as a dumping ground for anything. A former parish chairman once said that if Lynemouth didn’t exist, then the authorities would have to invent it to take everything that no one else wants.
“This is the same coastline as Newbiggin and Druridge Bay, so what is the matter with us when it comes to regeneration and being tidied up? We have also opposed the turbines at Alcan, but given this decision, I can’t see that one being refused either.”
Arnold Baker of Cresswell, one of the local borough councillors, said: “I am deeply distressed to hear that this development has been allowed. I fully understand the environmental concerns and that we must, as a nation, constantly seek alternative energy supplies. However, I think it is shameful that three of the biggest windmills in the land can be placed but a stone’s throw from a small village community. This site is right on the coast and it would have been more appropriate to place these turbines out at sea.
“With regard to the Alcan application, I feel our local communities have been let down by the fact that Wansbeck Council has already approved half of the scheme. That makes it more difficult for local people to resist the complete scheme.”
UK Coal spokesman Stuart Oliver said the three turbines would provide enough power for 5,500 homes and become an accepted feature on the skyline. “Obviously, we are pleased with a decision that will support the Government’s objective of getting cleaner and renewable sources of energy.
“This is our second wind turbine scheme to be approved and we believe these three turbines will make a contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from other sources of generation.’’
By Dave Black
23 February 2008
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