More than 30 wind turbines could be built in Teesdale in the coming months.
A tally of outstanding turbine planning applications and those approved but not yet constructed show that Teesdale is at the heart of the green energy revolution.
But while eco-groups are pleased, others fear Teesdale’s countryside could soon be “saturated” by wind power developments.
Dozens of small-scale wind turbines have already been built in Teesdale on farms and at other places such as Lunedale’s village hall. The 30 outstanding applications range from a full-scale wind farm near Hamsterley Forest to 15m micro-turbines at residential properties.
Craig Sams, of Barnard Castle firm Eco EnerG Solutions Ltd, said: “There is room for big wind and little wind, but it’s harder to find the right location for bigger turbines. They can be more contentious.
“But every farm, in my opinion, should have some kind of renewable energy system. Micro-wind turbines should be part of the agricultural infrastructure.”
However, Mr Sams said some single turbines were not always proposed for the right location. Resident Timothy Tarn has applied to build a single turbine, 34m from ground to tip, just south of the village of Woodland.
But Mr Sams said: “I don’t think this is acceptable because it will be too large and not be in keeping with the setting.”
South Teesdale Action Group (Stag) is fighting plans for a 78-metre wind turbine at Hulands Quarry, near Bowes, and a wind farm at Punder Gill, near Scargill.
Keith Alexander, from Stag, said he was concerned about the negative impact on residents. He said there is no legal set-back distance in the UK and developers are taking advantage of this to propose turbines less than 200 metres from residential properties.
County councils in Wiltshire and Lincolnshire have brought in restrictions, he added. They mean turbines more than 25m high, like those at Punder Gill, must now be built more than 1km from residential properties. Turbines with a height of 150m would have to be located 3km from homes.
“We are concerned that Durham County Council is currently lagging behind in protecting its residents at a time when more ‘smaller’ scale schemes are coming forward,” Stag said.
“Why should the people of Wiltshire be better protected than the people of County Durham when County Durham has already achieved its quota of renewable energy?”
Mr Alexander said the five 45m turbines at Punder Gill will be clearly seen from a large area of Teesdale, including most of Barnard Castle and large parts of the AONB.
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