May 3, 2011

Objections to North wind farm must change

by Brian Daniel, The Journal, 2 May 2011

Councillors will this week be asked to change their reasons for objecting to a proposed wind farm in the Northumberland countryside.

Northumberland County Council’s planning and environment committee is being recommended to alter its grounds for opposing RES’ bid for nine turbines at Park Head, near Netherwitton. At the same meeting, councillors are being urged to visit the site of another wind farm proposal nearby, BT’s scheme for three 100m engines at Wingates Moor, and to consider arranging a public meeting to allow residents in the area to air their views.

The RES bid is heading to a public inquiry after the developer appealed to the planning inspectorate because the council failed to determine it inside 16 weeks.

The authority insisted that was because the company had not submitted information requested of it. It later agreed to oppose the application at the inquiry because of a lack of information to allow officers to assess impacts on landscape character, ecology, the radar at Newcastle International Airport, residential amenity in terms of noise and cumulative impact.

Ahead of the inquiry, which begins on June 29, a report has been prepared for tomorrow’s committee.

It states RES has now submitted additional information, and that further discussions have taken place with the company and consultees.

The report asks that the committee agree a change in reasons for the council’s objection.

It requests that councillors endorse officers’ views that the turbines would have a significant adverse impact on the setting of grade I-listed building Netherwitton Hall.

Officers also say the scheme would result in unacceptable harm to the landscape when viewed from Wingates and to living conditions at one property.

The document furthermore states there is still insufficient information to assess impacts on legally protected species, the airport radar and residential amenity. Meanwhile, the report on the BT scheme says: ‘‘This is a major planning application which is likely to generate substantial local interest. It is considered that members would wish to visit the site and hold a public meeting prior to determining the application.’

Meanwhile, in a Journal article in March we stated that the Wingates not Wind Farms action group deemed BT’s East Wingates project – currently on hold – to be preferable to the Wingates Moor plans.

Chairman John Thompson has asked us to clarify that it does not consider the scheme to be preferable.

It believes the East Wingates scheme would add less to cumulative impact of schemes in the area but that it “is not appropriate for many other reasons including access, visual and other impacts.”

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