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Councillors defy turbine plan advice

A plan for a ten-turbine wind farm, which would have been Darlington’s first, has been refused by councillors contrary to recommendations.

Three members of Darlington’s planning committee were apprehensive about the application at Moor House Farm, north-east of the town, because of apparent inconsistencies with other reports.

Following a site visit and a three-anda- half hour meeting, councillors David Lyonette, Charles Johnson and Gerald Lee voiced concerns about the application.

They said it would impact on the visual character of the countryside and was not in line with separate reports, particularly an independent report by consultancy Arup.

Arup advised the area was suitable for “more than one small to medium-small development” – one of four to six turbines.

Planning officers said that they considered one site of ten was more preferable than two separate sites.

A majority verdict of the committee overturned a separate vote to approve the application, meaning the plans were rejected.

Councillor Lyonette moved a motion to refuse the application.

He said: “I was going through this report for two hours early this morning trying to glean where the officers’ recommendations came from.”

County Durham-based Banks Developments wanted to build ten turbines up to 110 metres high on farmland between Barmpton and Great Stainton to generate enough power for between 11,000 and 14,000 houses.

It argued the site would help the Tees Valley towards its renewable energy targets.

A member of Friends of the Earth also spoke on behalf of the site.

However, eight people objecting to the proposals, spoke about noise concerns, visual impact, traffic levels during construction and safety at nearby Durham Tees Valley Airport.

Peter Wood, spokesman for Seven Parishes Action Group, which represents seven villages opposed to the plans, said: “We are pleased that the planning officers recognised the project’s excessive levels of development for this site.”

Phil Dyke, managing director of Banks Renewables, part of the Banks Group, said he was extremely disappointed that the committee turned down the application.

He said: “If we are to be taken seriously as a region where investment in renewable energy projects can provide thousands of potential jobs, we must start to give a clear indication that we have an appetite for renewable energy schemes such as Moor House.”