March 3, 2012

Fears over lighting of turbine in Northumberland

by Brian Daniel, The Journal, 3 March 2012

A wind turbine in Northumberland is to be illuminated, sparking fears it will set a precedent.

The single engine at Wark Common Farm, Cornhill, is to feature red or infra red lighting, prompting fears that it could pave the way for hundreds of others in the county to be similarly lit up, thereby creating another reason for people to oppose turbines.

A planning application for the 275kW turbine, with a hub 55m high and a 32m rotor diameter, was submitted by applicants Straker-Smith Farms. It went before Northumberland County Council’s North area committee earlier this month, with a condition that it be fitted with aviation lighting, in the interests of air safety.

The condition states the lighting should be omni-directional, red or infra red, with an optimised flash pattern at 60 flashes per minute, at the highest practical point.

At that meeting, permission was granted, despite the protests of Coun Dougie Watkin who claimed no other turbine proposal in the North East featured such a condition, and that it would make the engine highly visible.

Last night, the councillor for Norham and Islandshires said turbines close to Newcastle Airport or in low flying zones do not have such lighting. Coun Watkin claimed the turbine should not be put at Wark if it is thought “it is in such a dangerous position that it needs to be lit.”

He said the lighting of turbines would add another reason for people to object to them.

Coun Watkin added: “It is a very rural place and it should blend in. There appears to be no compelling reason why it should be lit when others are not. Given the fact it will be lit, it will probably be able to be seen for 50 square miles, from the top of Carter Bar, out to Soutra, to Berwick.

“It will be hugely visible.

“If we are going to end up with 200 or 300 turbines lit up in the countryside, anyone who says they are going to blend in is just whistling dixie.

“It absolutely throws a spanner in the works of wind turbines in Northumberland if they are going to be lit day and night. What it will affect is people’s attitudes towards accepting wind turbines.”

Andrew Joicey, a farmer at Cornhill, added: “People are puzzled as to why this turbine suddenly is required to have any lighting when no other turbines that have been proposed or consented have had such a requirement on them.

“If every turbine on a hilltop is going to be lit up like a beacon, it will certainly be a concern.”

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