A leading Northumberland councillor aims to bring together all sides to nail down a firm county policy on wind farms.
Glen Sanderson says the rush of applications to build wind farms in the county needs to be controlled.
And Northumberland must not be seen as “a soft touch” for developers in the new age of renewable energy.
Coun Sanderson, chairman of the county’s Communities and Place Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “I am planning to have an open debate on the issue of wind farms.
“There is a waiting list of applicants ready to pounce and I want us to be absolutely clear what our policy is.
“At the moment it seems to be one case on its merits, followed by the next, but I want to strengthen our hand.
“We are perhaps being seen by some as a soft touch – but I want to make it clear to developers that we are not.”
Coun Sanderson, Conservative councillor for Chevington with Longhorsley, who lives near Morpeth, hopes to bring planners, developers and all other interested parties together round the table before July.
He was speaking after the Council’s Planning and Environment Committee streamlined its case to go to before a public inquiry into a planned nine-turbine development at scenic Park Head, Wingates, near Rothbury.
Since developers RES submitted more information, the County Council has decided to take a three-point case to the public inquiry which is due to open on June 29.
The Council’s case includes the impact upon Grade One-listed Netherwitton Hall and the unacceptable damage to the landscape.
RES appealed the refusal to the Planning Inspectorate after the Council did not determine the issue within 16 weeks, though the authority said that was because the company had not supplied requested data.
John Thompson, chairman of the Wingates Not Wind Farms action group, said local campaigners were “trying to halt the invasion”.
He added: “It beggars belief how any responsible developer could site a wind farm in this particular location.” And Coun Richard Dodd said: “I really feel for the residents of Wingates. This would be right in front of the village – and it’s unfair.”
Coun Sanderson added: “I’m determined to get this debate up and running before the end of July, and I would like the public to be involved as well.
I’m sure there are many who will be interested in making a contribution.
“I’m not wanting to have a battle – I’m just wanting to have a sensible debate, and the Wingates issue exemplifies the problem. I do know that the matter of wind farms is affecting the whole county, and the example of Wingates is a clear example of people thinking we are a soft touch.”
Meanwhile, councillors at the Planning and Environment Committee agreed to make a site visit to another wind farm application site close to Park Head.
They will inspect the area of Wingates Moor where British Telecom want to install three 100-metre engines, and may call a public meeting.
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