A public inquiry into a proposed Northumberland wind farm is set to take place in September, a meeting will hear this week.
Berwick Borough Council is asking members to allocate £100,000 to fight the proposals to erect 10 turbines at Wandylaw, Chathill.
The application from RidgeWind Ltd was refused by the borough council’s planning committee last October by eight votes to two.
Members went against their officers’ recommendation, insisting the development would have a detrimental effect on the landscape and expressing fears over the cumulative impact of the proposal with npower renewables’ bid for 18 turbines at nearby Middlemoor.
They also agreed with fears expressed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) about the safety of low-flying aircraft.
RidgeWind subsequently announced it was to appeal the decision, claiming councillors formed their decision on misleading presentations from a vocal minority of protesters.
At a full meeting of the borough council on Thursday night, members will be told that a public inquiry is likely to be held in September.
They will be asked to endorse the allocation of £100,000 to fight the application.
A report to the meeting states that because the committee voted against the recommendation of their officers, the council must engage specialist external consultants to represent the council’s case for refusing.
The council envisages that it will require a part-time clerical officer to co-ordinate the preparation work for the inquiry and ensure that the hearing runs smoothly and efficiently.
Members will be told that the likely expenditure will be £45,000 on legal advice and representation, £25,000 on planning advice and representation, £25,000 on specialist case advice and representation, and £5,000 on administrative support and costs of staging the inquiry.
The £100,000 will have to be found from contingencies as there is no provision within the council’s existing budgets.
As the refusal was against officers’ advice, those who formed the recommendation cannot represent the council at the inquiry.
Shona Alexander, council director of regeneration and development, said: “This planning inquiry will create a lot of additional work for staff within the development services team, and it is essential that this is not to the detriment of their normal workloads.”
Nigel Goodhew, director of RidgeWind, said the company has yet to receive official confirmation from the planning inspectorate of a date for the inquiry. But like the council, he believes it is to take place in September.
By Brian Daniel
22 April 2008
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