Developers hoping to build a controversial wind farm are taking their plans out of local control after a council failed to decide on it.
RWE npower renewables has appealed over Northumberland County Council’s failure to decide its application for eight 125m turbines on two sites near Kirkharle.
The application for land to the east of Bavington Hill Head Farm and land to the west of Northside Farm has been with the authority and its predecessor Tynedale Council since November 2008.
The proposal has previously been opposed by residents, Bavington, Birtley and Kirkwhelpington parish councils, the Campaign for Responsible Energy Development in Tynedale group, Newcastle International Airport and the Ministry of Defence.
But the company’s appeal will now trigger a public inquiry, less than two years after a hearing into three nearby wind farm proposals concluded.
That inquiry, which ran for almost a year, ended with wind farms at Ray Estate and Green Rigg being approved, and one at Steadings being rejected.
Richard Best, from RWE npower, said: “We have been working with the planning officer, but the council hasn’t made a decision on the application and have made no indication as to when this was likely to happen. The decision-making process is still open and the council, local interest groups and members of the public will still have an opportunity to represent their views about the wind farm to the planning inspectorate.”
He insisted the project “would make a vital contribution to the UK renewable energy targets”.
Last night, the council said the application had not been determined because the developer had failed to supply information requested of it by Tynedale to go alongside its environmental statement.
The authority said it is currently preparing information in response to the appeal.
Peter Ramsden, chairman of Bavington Parish Council, who spoke against the three wind farms at the last public inquiry, claimed the holding of another is “an issue for the public purse” and said: “It does not seem like the time to go to a further public inquiry.”
Coun Ramsden said he could not see how the npower scheme could be approved while issues around the impact of the turbines at Ray Estate on the radar at Newcastle Airport remain unresolved.
He added that the npower project is closer to population centres and the A696 than the others, and said cumulative impact of the turbines with those already approved is a major concern.
Earlier this year, it emerged that Bavington Hill Head Farm is owned by Neil Carmichael, who is now a Conservative MP in Gloucestershire.
Former Northumberland county councillor Mr Carmichael angered people living near the site by allowing his land to be used for the development, while opposing wind farm proposals in the Stroud constituency where he was campaigning to be elected.
The MP said at the time he believed npower would be considering its options in the light of the triple public inquiry decision.
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