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Winds of change blow out turbine plan

People power has produced a remarkable U-turn by Northumberland County Council.

There was such a public uproar when Northumberland County Council granted itself conditional planning permission for a wind turbine next to Haydon Bridge High School that the county has now withdrawn the application altogether.

That was despite the fact it was again being recommended for approval when it was due before Tuesday’s meeting of the county’s planning and environment committee.

The decision has delighted one of chief campaigners against the turbine, John Nattrass, who said: “I am happy to report that I received a telephone call from Northumberland County Council on the morning of the meeting to say that the application to install a 16m wind turbine in the field at Waite Farm, Haydon Bridge, had been withdrawn.

“I and other objectors would like to thank the residents of Haydon Bridge for displaying a petition in the local shops and the many people who signed it.

“We would also like to thank the parish council and the tireless efforts of our county councillor Alan Sharp for all the support in getting the application withdrawn.”

And he thanked Haydon Bridge High School for responding so positively to the feelings of the local community.

There were 30 letters of objection to the scheme, as well as a petition bearing 140 names.

The parish council lodged an objection, with chairman Coun. Esmond Faulks commenting: “The impression was that the committee had already made up its mind and would therefore take no notice of the objections.

“There was a widespread view in Haydon Bridge that the objectors would not get a fair hearing.”

Villagers claimed they were not informed that the application was going before the planning committee in July, so they were denied the opportunity to voice their objections.

Mr Nattrass, said: “What we don’t understand is why this application even got off the drawing board.

“This is a case of Northumberland County Council submitting a proposal which was inefficient and expensive without even looking at other methods available.

“It was a proposal submitted underhandedly by the council to be built on council land and approved by the council, while totally ignoring the views of many of the village residents.”

He pointed out that the cost of erecting a windmill would be much greater than installing solar panels, which would work more efficiently.

He said: “The cost of solar panels will be a maximum of £24,000 against £90,000 for a wind turbine.

“Solar panels require no maintenance, while wind turbines, because they have moving parts, by their very nature will!”

He said putting up the turbine would also involve cranes and a concrete pad to support the cranes, with associated health and safety issues.

Mr Nattrass argued there was ample flat roof space at the school, not only to supply the zero carbon classroom the turbine was intended for, but probably the whole school.

A spokesman for the county council said this week: “All we can say on this is that the application has been withdrawn – we can’t confirm that there is one single reason for this.”