Residents are confident of defeating a bid to build what could be England’s biggest wind farm on their doorstep, after meeting a Government minister yesterday.
The bullish message came after the campaigners – faced with living in the shadow of the giant development, on farmland east of Newton Aycliffe, in County Durham – met local government minister Bob Neill, at Westminster.
The meeting was arranged after Phil Wilson, the Sedgefield MP, asked David Cameron to intervene in the controversy – warning the planned farm was “just too big”.
As The Northern Echo revealed in April, energy firm E.on is considering a farm boasting between 25 and 45 turbines, on land stretching from Preston-le-Skerne to Chilton.
The company has subsequently said it has no firm plans and it is too early to say how big any proposed wind farm could be.
Turbines could be built within a mile of Newton Aycliffe and Chilton, and close to Woodham, Bradbury, Mordon and Preston-le-Skerne, either side of the A1(M) and close to the A167.
During the meeting, the residents were told that a case could be mounted if a wind farm was too close to a major road, such as the A1(M), or if there was a “cumulative effect”, of too many farms in one area.
The residents believe they can win on both counts, when E.on puts in a detailed planning application to Durham County Council within the next 12 months.
John Clare, from Great Aycliffe Town Council, said: “We are very hopeful, following the meeting. We were put in the right direction, but this is just the start of a war of attrition.
“We are not against wind farms, but this one would be bigger than Newton Aycliffe and just across the road. It would be seen from everywhere in the town – it’s the only thing people would see above the trees.”
And Jean Gillespie, from Bradbury, said: “We are concerned that it will distract drivers, because it will be either side of the A1M and three times the size of the Angel of the North.”
Mr Wilson has already called for a suspension of all new wind farm projects until a region-wide policy has been drawn up, amid fears the North-East is being swamped.
Following the meeting, the MP said: “We put a robust case that this farm should not go ahead, on the basis that County Durham has a very good record on renewable energy developments.”
Also at the meeting were Vince Crosby, a Newton Aycliffe town councillor, Paul Gray, a Chilton town councillor, and Maureen Errington, Chilton’s Mayor.
The application is likely to be decided by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne because of the scale of the potential develompment.
From next year, such bids will go to a new Infrastructure Planning Commission.
In April, the Prime Minister hinted that people living close to wind farms would be rewarded with council tax discounts and cheaper electricity – but no details have emerged.
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