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Village anger over mast deadline

A resident has slammed the county council’s planning department after it failed to notify him of a planning application linked to a proposed windfarm on land neighbouring his north Northumberland farm.

Belford Parish Council has joined in the criticism after it was only notified about the application a couple of weeks before the deadline for responses, despite the application being validated at the start of April.

The company behind the proposed Belford Burn windfarm, which would feature up to nine turbines to the west of the village, has applied to install a 60-metre anemometer mast on the site for a period of three years.

Members received the details of the application on the Sunday prior to last Thursday’s meeting, while Martin Straker, who lives at Plantation Farm and is a direct neighbour, told the meeting that he only heard about the plans through a friend.

When he went online to view the plans on the Northumberland County Council (NCC) website, only the odd pages of the design access statement were available, meaning half of it was missing.

“I feel very let down by the whole planning process and by NCC and hope you are able to put forward my disgust and utter disbelief at the situation at present,” he said.

When he contacted the planning department he was told that it was ‘not humanly possible’ to contact all neighbours as there are so many and that it would be expected word of mouth would pass the information around.

Coun Brenda Stanton said: “We are a statutory consultee and we have been given how many days’ notice? I think it’s terrible.”

In a letter to other members, Coun Geoff O’Connell pointed out that this application was ‘particularly sensitive as this parish is alive with interest’ over the two proposals for windfarms near Belford.

He also ‘deplored’ the inadequate computer access to planning documents – ‘a situation which has existed for some years and has been the subject of criticism by many other parish councils and members of the public in the county’.

Regarding the application itself, Coun Chris Rosby questioned the need for the mast when the site had apparently been selected due to its suitability.

“I thought they had selected the site because of wind data,” he said.

Members agreed to object to the application and to write a letter of complaint to the county council’s planning department.

l For more from last Thursday’s meeting of Belford Parish Council, see Page 22.