Planners in Northumberland have been accused of opening the floodgates for more wind farms with comments made by officers in a report.
Officers at Northumberland County Council have angered anti-wind campaigners by stating that one set of turbines may be considered acceptable because they are in an area where a wind power development has already been approved.
The planners say that the area will have a “wind farm landscape” with a reduced sensitivity to further development.
But last night the Campaign for Responsible Energy Development in Tynedale – CREDIT – said that stance is effectively encouraging developers to come forward with new schemes in areas where wind farms have already been permitted.
The comments which have annoyed protesters come in a report on RWE npower renewables’ bid for turbines at Kirkharle.
It reads: “Furthermore, the northern cluster would be located in an area where planning permission has been granted for a large number of turbines at Green Rigg (18 turbines) and potentially at Ray (16 turbines). It is therefore considered that the northern cluster landscape will change significantly to that of a wind farm landscape.
“It is therefore considered that due to the reduced sensitivity of the landscape in this area and the change towards a wind farm landscape the northern cluster may be considered acceptable.”
Karen Archbold, a member of CREDIT, last night claimed the council’s stance could encourage developers to submit new proposals for the Kirkharle area, and also other parts of Northumberland where some development has been permitted.
She said: “Words fail me. I cannot believe that the county council has put that in a report. It has serious implications for not just this area but for the whole of the county.
“We have already had wind farms consented in some areas, so does the same follow for them? To be making statements like that in these circumstances, it really is dangerous to say the least.”
RWE npower has appealed on the basis that the council has failed to decide its application, with a public inquiry likely to take place next year.
Council officers prepared the report in order to set out the authority’s position going into the inquiry.
They are advising that the council take the view that the proposal should be refused on the basis of lack of information. The report goes before the council’s planning and environment committee tonight.
It was written before the developer confirmed last week that it is now only seeking approval for four turbines, having originally applied for eight.
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