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County council U-turn over windfarm plan  

Northumberland County Council has withdrawn its objections to proposals by Hexham-based company Amec for a windfarm in Tynedale.

In a letter submitted to the public inquiry looking at three separate applications, the council said that its major concerns had been dealt with by the company’s decision to modify its original plans.

Amec had initially intended to put up 20 turbines in the Ray Estate, but in light of evidence presented at the inquiry, altered the number to 16.

According to the council’s strategic policy and initiatives team leader Ian Campbell, this was sufficient to mitigate problems relating to landscape, visual impact and even cumulative effect.

The news will be a major boost to Amec, which has already found favour with Tynedale Council.

After amendments were announced in February, Tynedale withdrew its cultural heritage objection – though it stressed it still had many concerns.

Amec, Steadings and Wind Prospect all want to build in the Knowesgate area, and the inquiry – which has ongoing since January 15 – has attracted objectors ranging from local residents to the MoD.

Northumberland County Council originally objected to Amec’s plans on three grounds:

l The adverse impact on landscape character caused by the four turbines (since removed) south of the C195 road in the vicinity of Great Wanney Crag;

l The visual impact of these four turbines on the scheduled ancient monument at Great Wanney Crag hillfort;

lThe cumulative impact of the proposal in terms of its visual effects when considered alongside the other windfarms, and in terms of its impact on the historic environment when considered alongside the proposed Wind Prospect windfarm at Green Rigg.

Removing the controversial turbines clearly answered the first two objections, while, according to the letter sent to the inquiry, the third took more consideration.

It states “The assistant archaeologist now further considers that in its amended form there is no longer an unacceptable cumulative impact in terms of its impact on the historic environment when considered alongside the proposed Green Rigg windfarm.

“The county council’s landscape witness has also considered the cumulative visual effects of the revised Ray proposal.

“He considers the effects of the 16 turbine option are materially less than the 20 turbine option.

“However, apart from the one instance in a view from Knowesgate, his cumulative visual effects assessment indicates that they remain within the same categories of visual effects as for the 20 turbine option.

“Therefore he concludes that there remains a basis for maintaining an objection to the revised Ray proposal on grounds of its cumulative visual effects.

“The county council needs to take cognisance of this view when considering its revised position.”

Given the weight attached to renewable energy in the planning balance, however, the council decided to withdraw its final objection.

After a six-week break, the inquiry resumed this Tuesday to hear Wind Prospect’s evidence on aviation issues.

It will not be sitting next week, but will continue on Tuesday, May 20.

By Robert Gibson

The Hexham Courant

9 May 2008

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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