Calls were made last night for a decision on a proposed Northumberland wind farm to be announced before a public inquiry is held on plans for another scheme nearby.
An inquiry took place in November last year into npower renewables’ bid to erect 18 125m-turbines at Middlemoor, North Charlton, near Alnwick. The planning inspector who conducted the three-week inquiry at Alnwick’s Northumberland Hall has filed his recommendations with the Secretary of State, from whom a final decision is awaited.
And the Save Northumberland’s Environment group, which opposed the Middlemoor application at the inquiry, is pressing for the announcement to be made ahead of a hearing into a proposed wind farm at nearby Wandylaw.
Ridgewind Ltd was refused permission by Berwick Borough Council for erection of 10 turbines at the site near Chathill last October and subsequently appealed.
A public inquiry is to take place over eight days in September with the borough having set aside a £100,000 war chest to fight the application. Given the proximity of the Middlemoor and Wandylaw sites, SANE is calling for the decision on the former to be announced ahead of the hearing on the latter – to allow the September inquiry to proceed with knowledge of whether the cumulative impact of both sites is an issue.
SANE will use a pre-inquiry meeting into the Wandylaw scheme at Berwick next month to make the point, as well as to back the Ministry of Defence’s opposition to the smaller scheme on the grounds of safety of low-flying aircraft.
Group chairman Nick Blezard said: “We think it is important that it (the Middlemoor decision) is announced before the Wandylaw inquiry starts. We are a bit concerned that all the Government are saying is we will announce the Middlemoor inquiry some time later this year. We wonder what they are taking their time about. It would be nice for someone from Government to say.”
A spokesman for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform insisted the decision process was within timescales.
He said: “We received the inspector’s report on April 16. The application is going to be considered by the Secretary of State at the moment and we will hopefully have a decision in the next month or two.” The spokesman said he could not be specific on the exact date.
The Middlemoor application was opposed at the inquiry by the MoD, amid fears over impact on a nearby RAF radar, as well as Alnwick District Council.
By Brian Daniel
10 June 2008