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Planners turn down wind turbine bid for Ponteland farm

A controversial bid to erect a large wind turbine on farmland owned by a senior Northumberland councillor was thrown out by his own authority last night.

The 77.9m-high turbine – more than three times taller than the Angel of the North – was proposed on land at East Coldcoats Farm near Ponteland owned by Coun Peter Jackson, leader of the opposition Conservative group on the county council.

It sparked 47 letters of objection from local people and was opposed by a number of groups and organisations, including Ponteland’s town council and civic society, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Northumbria Police, whose headquarters are nearby.

Last night the county council’s planning and environment committee voted decisively to refuse the application for permission submitted by land agent George F White on behalf of renewables company Green Energy Ponteland Ltd.

Last night David Elliott of Smallburn near Ponteland, one of the objectors to the application, said:”I’m delighted with the result and very pleased with the level of support that we got from the councillors, who understood very clearly the issues involved. We presented the right arguments to them and they were prepared to accept them.”

Planning officers had originally recommended approval, saying the turbine would help meet the growing demand for renewable energy and would not seriously harm the landscape or people’s quality of life.

However, committee members rejected the advice, claiming the size of the machine would have a damaging impact on the green belt and be too close to residential properties.

The proposal became embroiled in controversy when Coun Jackson initially denied having any knowledge of the application until it was lodged with the county council.

He denied being actively involved in the proposal and also refused to say whether he supported it, or would allow the turbine to be built on his land.

A week later he admitted he had been wrong to say he had known nothing of the application, confirming he had been contacted by George F White about the possibility of a planning application ahead of it being submitted. He said he “was not aware of the details or timescale of the planning procedures”.

His comments led to objectors to the proposed turbine calling on him to consider his position. He was not present at last night’s meeting.

Chartered town planner Andrew Moss, speaking on behalf of the objectors, said approving the application ran the risk of setting a precedent for larger wind turbines in the green belt, which ought to be protected against inappropriate development.

Mr Moss said the turbine would substantially reduce the open character of the landscape, and affect the setting of a number of listed buildings.