August 13, 2011

Bavington residents “weary” of Kirkharle wind farm proposals

by Paul Tully, The Journal, 13 August 2011

Plans to build a wind farm at Kirkharle in Northumberland are “opportunistic and ill-considered”, a public inquiry was told yesterday.

It was the final day of the inquiry brought by RWE Npower Renewables against Northumberland County Council for its failure to give notice of its refusal decision on the wind farm application within the statutory 16-week deadline.

Peter Ramsden, chairman of Bavington Parish Council, claimed local people were “weary” of further proposals and that the four proposed 125-metre wind turbines near Great Bavington would cause unacceptable harm.

However, RWE, which is fighting for permission to erect the turbines, says Government targets heighten the need for Northumberland to comply with looming green-energy requirements.

Independent energy planning adviser David Bell told the inquiry in Hexham that Northumberland was facing a “massive” shortfall in its own target.

Mr Bell also said there was a binding obligation to meet European and national green energy targets by 2020. In the UK nationally, only 3.3% of energy currently consumed was renewable. But this figure is targeted to rise to 15% by 2020.

“That is a mandatory target, in my view,” said Mr Bell. “Local planning authorities should plan positively, approve all individual proposals wherever possible, and look for solutions rather than problems.”

The council has said it would have refused the application in any event, and opposition has also come from Newcastle International Airport, the Campaign for Responsible Energy Development in Tynedale (CREDIT), and Kirkwhelpington environmental campaigner Bill Short.

On the final day of the three-week inquiry, Mr Ramsden referred to the previous Ray/Green Rigg/Steadings public inquiry refusal, in which the Government inspector said the cumulative landscape impact of multiple proposals was not acceptable.

He said: “Bavington Parish Council suggests that this Kirkharle wind farm proposal, sited close to the rejected Steadings proposal, has in common many of the reasons for objection that were responsible for the rejection of the Steadings proposal.

“Because of existing turbines and large schemes already approved, the local community living in and around the Knowesgate area is already committed to its share of the consequences of providing renewable energy, and are weary of further proposals.

“These turbines, if approved, would dominate our local landscape and there is a clear, unanimous local view against the proposal.”

Inquiry inspector David Rose is expected to deliver his decision by the end of the year.

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