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Turbine bid set to stay on track  

Credit:  By BRIAN TILLEY, Hexham Courant, www.hexhamcourant.co.uk 30 April 2012 ~~

Despite attracting 50 letters of objection, controversial plans for a wind turbine at Hexham racecourse seem on course for victory.

Members of Northumberland County Council’s planning and environment committee will on Tuesday be advised to approve the scheme.

The recommendation will come as a body blow to the objectors to the 51-metre high turbine, who have amassed a catalogue of reasons why planners should say no.

They say there while they are used to the hubbub from the course on occasional race days, the turbine will be noisy all day, all the year round.

The objectors also raise concerns about the impact on the landscape, and on the cultural heritage of the Hexham area.

They are also worried about the effect of shadow flicker from the blades of the proposed wind turbine, and the potential impact on local footpaths and bridleways.

Further concerns involve the impact on the tourist trade.

Objectors say the turbine will be visible from the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Hadrian’s Wall corridor.

There were also seven letters of support for the scheme, which stressed the importance of green energy initiatives.

The proposed turbine has a rating of 225kW.

In her assessment of the situation, planning officer Sarah Liverick acknowledges that the turbine was considered to be inappropriate development in the green belt.

But she adds: “However, the proposed wind turbine development has the potential to make a contribution to the production of electricity for a renewable resource, and to contribute to the regional targets for renewable energy generation.

“It is therefore considered that the applicants have demonstrated very special circumstances that outweigh the slight harm to the green belt.”

She also accepts that the turbine would create a prominent feature in an area of predominately agricultural use and open landscape.

But again she adds: “The single turbine would occupy a small portion of an open and expansive landscape on the upper slope of the valley.

“Views of the turbine would become less prominent over 5km from the site.

“And the nature of the existing topography, built development and vegetation would limit the visibility of the structure.

“It is therefore considered that the proposed turbine would not have a significant impact in terms of landscape and visual impact.”

She also considers the proposal would not have an adverse impact on the setting of Hexham

She concludes: “The turbine is considered to be consistent with national, regional and local planning policy guidance and targets.

“On balance the potential benefits of sustainable renewable energy from a local source outweigh the potential impacts on the character of the local landscape, and visual and residential amenity.

“It is therefore recommended that planning permission is granted.”

Source:  By BRIAN TILLEY, Hexham Courant, www.hexhamcourant.co.uk 30 April 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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