Villagers fighting a wind farm near their homes are notching up a victory after councillors rejected a development by BT.
The sound of applause rang out in the chamber at County Hall, Morpeth, last night as members of Northumberland County Council took the shock step of throwing out an application for three 121-metre-high turbines.
Objectors claim the scheme, designed for land near Wingates Moor Farm, Wingates, would see communities swamped by wind power projects that blight the countryside close to Northumberland National Park.
Coun John Taylor proposed the rejection on the grounds the impact on the surrounding communities, whose homes are short distances from two separate schemes, and the countryside was cumulative and damaging.
But the chairman of the planning committee, Coun Trevor Thorne, warned his colleagues the move left the authority on “shaky ground” and open to appeal by the telecommunications giant.
The authority’s planning officers had recommended the project, which would have powered all of BT’s operations in Northumberland, for approval.
Rob Williams, head of renewable energy for the company, told the meeting the firm had consulted with residents for two years and scaled down its original ambitions.
The firm had also promised to invest in high speed broadband in communities close to the proposed development.
Coun Steven Bridgett, speaking on behalf of the objectors, said the turbines would invade the beauty of the countryside, deter tourists and encourage other developers to look to Northumberland.
He said: “Northumberland has become a target for prospective wind farm developers at the cost of taxpayers like you and me.
“Wind farms are appearing like a malignant cancer across the county of Northumberland.
He “implored” the committee to take a stand against an influx of development and added: “Residents of Northumberland don’t want these monstrosities ruining our landscapes and the communities in which we live.”
Planners approved separate plans for an anemometer mast at land east of Moor Edge Cottage, Fenrother Lane, Fenrother.
The applicant, green power firm EnergieKontor, is hoping to build five turbines – each 126 metres high – on nearby farmland.
It is likely the mast will give the developer reliable data to support an application.
There is growing concern that, while Northumberland has around 30 operational turbines, the rural county is becoming a hot spot for wind power development.
Scores more turbines have been given planning consent and there are many others in the pipeline.
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