February 29, 2012

Community ‘ignored’ over Wingates wind turbine plans

by Brian Daniel, The Journal, www.journallive.co.uk 29 February 2012

Residents in a Northumberland hamlet last night accused council bosses of failing to protect them from an onslaught of wind turbines.

A controversial planning application from British Telecom (BT) for three massive engines close to Wingates is to be determined by Northumberland County Council next week, with members being advised to give it the go-ahead.

If approved the scheme would add to six turbines already consented close to Wingates from Inifinis, giving a potential nine engines within 1.5km of the 22 home community.

The council’s recommendation comes despite a volley of objections from 24 residents, the Wingates not Wind Farms action group, and parish councils at Nunnykirk, Netherwitton and Brinkburn and Hesleyhurt.

Last night, John Thompson, chairman of the action group, who will speak at next week’s meeting, said: “We are just being steamrollered, the local people are being totally ignored.

“I do not know what agenda they (the county council) are working to but it does not seem to be to protect Northumberland, and particularly the area in which the wind farms are.”

The council responded with a spokesperson saying: “All relevant issues, including those raised by local residents, have been taken into account when preparing the report and officer’s recommendations.

“All representations received are made available to members in advance of the committee, and members of the public also have the opportunity to speak at the meeting. Members take these and all relevant factors into account when making their decision.”

The application is for turbines 121m high at Wingates Moor farm. Mr Thompson is unhappy that unlike other wind projects which generate electricity for use by local people, BT’s scheme will create power solely for consumption by the company.

The Ministry of Defence and Newcastle International Airport have furthermore objected, on the basis that the engines would interfere with radars, although the airport says the area would be suitable for radar blanking.

Northumberland National Park Authority has also voiced opposition while Natural England has raised concerns.

BT said it has redesigned the scheme to reduce its impacts on Wingates and to “read as one wind farm” with the Infinis project.

It also plans to offer screening to protect nearest residential properties and has said there would be community benefits from the project, including using money raised from the scheme to improve broadband speeds in the area.

Head of renewables Rob Williams, who is to speak at next week’s meeting, said: “We have worked hard with the officers to find the right balance between BT’s need for renewable energy and the impacts on the local environment and we feel that the way we have altered the design and with the way we are looking to work to benefit the local community, we hope we have struck the right balance.”

Two letters of support have been sent to the county council. Council officers are recommending their planning and environment committee approve the scheme at a meeting at County Hall next Tuesday at 6pm.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2012/02/29/community-ignored-over-wingates-wind-turbine-plans/