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Council’s wind farm policy is criticised

The Northumberland and Newcastle Society has strongly criticised the background papers which are intended to inform Northumberland County Council’s Core Strategy policy on wind farm development.

Its Northumberland Environmental Policy Group commissioned a leading planning consultant, a senior landscape architect and an expert on the health effects of wind turbines to provide expert opinions on the council’s proposals.

“We are committed to supporting the council in producing a Core Strategy that will protect the county’s landscape, heritage and communities from inappropriate development,” a spokesperson said “By challenging the evidence base, we seek not to undermine, but rather to strengthen the position of our councillors as custodians of Northumberland.”

The council’s ‘Renewable, Low-Carbon Energy Generation and Energy Efficiency Study’, is particularly singled out for its lack of objectivity. It claims that Northumberland has ‘technical capacity’ for 17,020MW of wind capacity, equivalent to over 6,000 more turbines.

The spokesman added: “Apart from excluding nationally designated landscapes such as the National Park, this study ignores landscape or visual issues. Where landscape, heritage or residential amenity issues are mentioned, they are seen as ‘challenges’ to delivery of wind turbines, rather than constraints or assets to be protected.

“Cumulative factors are also ignored. This is surprising given that Northumberland has already built or consented some 120 turbines, more than any other English county. Another 21 have been applied for and nearly 150 are at the pre-application stage.”