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Wingates wind farm rivals angry as turbines approved  

Credit:  By Brian Daniel, The Journal, www.journallive.co.uk 8 April 2011 ~~

A windfarm developer is set to mount a legal challenge after councillors in Northumberland approved a rival’s bid.

Green firm RES is likely to seek a judicial review of Northumberland County Council’s decision to grant planning permission to Infinis (Novera) for six turbines at Wingates, near Rothbury.

The move comes after the developer objected to the Wingates project on the morning it was decided.

RES lodged plans for nine turbines near the Wingates scheme, at Park Head in 2009.

Last December, the company appealed to the planning inspectorate on the basis the county council had failed to decide the application inside a 16-week target.

The council insisted it had not determined the bid as it had received insufficient information from the developer, and has since agreed to oppose the scheme at public inquiry due to the lack of detail.

The authority then scheduled the Infinis project to go before its planning committee on Tuesday, and last week released its report to members in which it recommended approval.

A letter was sent to the council by RES’ solicitors Cobbetts on Tuesday morning, in which it set out its objection to the Wingates scheme and revealed it would be seeking judicial review “immediately” if the plans were approved.

The firm also accused the council of “unreasonable inconsistencies” in its approach to the Wingates and Park Head schemes.

In the letter, the developer says the council appears to believe that the landscape can only accommodate one of the two wind farms.

It says the authority should consider which is preferable and argues its scheme would produce more renewable energy and have less environmental impacts.

RES claims Infinis’ environmental statement is “inadequate and inaccurate”.

The letter calls on the council to refuse Wingates and reconsider its position on the Park Head scheme.

RES says it has been “prejudiced” by the council’s inconsistent approach to the two schemes and threatens the judicial review if Wingates is approved.

But despite the content of the letter, the planning committee agreed to approve the Infinis scheme.

RES failed to provide a comment last night.

A council spokeswoman said the authority believed “sufficient information” had been provided to enable a full assessment of the environmental impacts of the Wingates scheme.

She also said the council considered it “not appropriate” to comment on the merits of the Park Head scheme, given that it is preparing its case for the public inquiry.

A spokeswoman for Infinis said it would not comment on the actions of a rival firm.

John Thompson, chairman of Wingates not Wind Farms action group, which is opposing both schemes, said of RES’ actions: “To be honest, I am not surprised. I could see they were trying to protect their position.”

Mr Thompson said it was “ironic” that RES was objecting partly on the basis of lack of information from Inifinis, given that is a reason why its own project is being opposed by the council.

“It is almost the pot calling the kettle black.”

Source:  By Brian Daniel, The Journal, www.journallive.co.uk 8 April 2011

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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