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Claim Kirkharle wind farm plan will destroy landscape

Wind turbines planned for a scenic area in the heart of Northumberland would “overwhelm and destroy” the landscape, a public inquiry was told yesterday.

The four 125-metre-high turbines at Kirkharle were on an unjustifiable scale and would dominate and detract from the area, Paul Tucker QC said.

Mr Tucker, representing Northumberland County Council on the first day of a two-week inquiry, said the scheme devised by green energy firm RWE Renewables of Swindon would blight the life of residents in and around the Bavington Conservation Area.

The council accepted the principle of wind farm development and was “acutely aware” of national Government energy targets, Mr Tucker added.

“But this is an inappropriate development and undermines confidence in the low-carbon agenda,” he said.

“The applicants could in our opinion have designed a scheme which respects the area and protects its future.

“Turbines on this unjustifiable scale will dominate and detract from the area and replace it with a wind farm landscape.”

RWE Renewables is appealing over Northumberland County Council’s alleged failure to give notice of its decision to reject the application within the statutory 16-week deadline.

RWE dropped plans for a further four turbines at Northside Farm, near Kirkharle, but have pressed on with their application at Bavington Hill Head Farm, which is owned by former Northumberland county councillor Neil Carmichael, pictured, now a Conservative MP in Gloucestershire.

Other objectors include the Campaign for Responsible Energy Development in Tynedale (CREDIT) and Newcastle Airport, which fears the turbines could affect air traffic.

Thomas Hill, for the airport, told Government Inspector David Rose that the turbines could “mimic and obscure” aircraft and cast a radar shadow.

Barrister David Hardy, representing RWE, said Government green energy targets would double by 2020 and there was a substantial shortfall in Northumberland that had to be met.

Mr Hardy said: “The key submission is that the threshold of acceptable development has to be set at the right level, allowing sufficient applications to go through in sufficient places.

“The council accepts that in principle the appeal site could satisfactorily accommodate a wind farm. Model wind turbines inevitably bring with them significant change.”