August 4, 2011

Northumberland a wind turbine “dumping ground”, says councillor

The Journal, 4 August 2011

Northumberland has become a “dumping ground” for wind turbines, a county councillor claims.

According to Wansbeck and Sleekburn Labour councillor Jeff Gobin, there are other counties in England which don’t have any wind farms but Northumberland is being overwhelmed with applications.

Coun Gobin spoke out firmly against proposals from Newcastle-based TNEI for a three-year wind-speed test mast standing 80 metres high on scenic land near the hamlet of Molesden, between Morpeth and Whalton.

It is commonly perceived as the forerunner to another wind farm in Northumberland, and local residents have set a major protest campaign in motion.

Coun Gobin told a packed meeting of the County Council’s Planning and Environment Committee: “I question the need for this mast in the first place.

“It looks like the North East, particularly Northumberland, has become the dumping ground for these wind turbines.

“There are counties throughout the country that have no wind turbines. Let’s have them at Buckingham Palace or the Houses of Parliament – but not in our back yards.”

Coun Gobin’s comments drew cheers and prolonged applause from onlookers in the council chamber at the County Hall in Morpeth.

Coun Gobin turned to the 70-plus protesters crowded into the debating chamber and said: “These are the people who put us in, for us to voice and for us to stop it.

“The mast is not needed. We don’t need the energy. We get all this when other authorities in the country don’t get them, or turn them down.”

The Government has given Northumberland set targets for green energy development. Council planning officer Frances Wilkinson said: “In terms of need for renewable energy, national policy is quite clear when it says we cannot question the need for it.”

Committee chairman Coun Trevor Thorne said: “It is an application for a ‘MetMast’ – I know it begs the question ‘is there a wind farm application in the wind?’. But if there is an application for a wind farm we would hold a public meeting and consult widely with the residents in that area. There are no strong planning reasons why this mast should not be built.”

Coun Ian Hutchinson, who chairs the council’s West Area Planning Committee, added: “We have got to look at this as an application for a ‘MetMast’, not for wind turbines.”

The proposal for the mast was passed on a majority vote, met with groans of disappointment from objectors. But objectors who made 25 separate written protests to the authority have vowed to continue the fight against any wind farm proposal.

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