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Windfarm crusade reaches Minister

A campaign to give local communities a stronger say in windfarm development is being taken to Westminster.

Northumberland Conservatives have written a letter to Government Energy Minister Charles Hendry calling for a change in national windfarm policy to allow local people more say in where turbines are erected.

The letter, which is signed by county councillors, Hexham MP Guy Opperman and campaigner Anne-Marie Trevelyan, argues that as the UK is set to meet carbon reduction targets, which are used to justify windfarm development, there should be a change of focus to take more account of public concerns, such as separation distances from homes, economic impact and potential health risks.

The calls come after a motion at Northumberland County Council seeking urgent consultation on turbine applications was rejected by the Liberal Democrat and Labour groups.

Chevington with Longhorsley member Glen Sanderson, who proposed the motion, said: “We are calling for local people to have the final and determining say on how many wind turbines are built and where they go.

“Planning decisions relating to turbines are currently being distorted in two ways – by national targets for carbon reduction and by Government subsidies paid to turbine developers.

“The UK already has enough renewable energy development built or planned to meet carbon reduction targets. Meanwhile, wind power subsidies are pushing up energy prices, forcing residents of Northumberland even further into fuel poverty.

“Our county already has some of the worst fuel poverty in the country.”

“It is time to think again about a national policy context that is proving to be a blunt tool for the important task of encouraging renewable energy. Planning policy must become more locally responsive by returning the final say to elected councillors and residents.”