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Campaigners fear Newton Aycliffe masts may precede Isles development

Plans to put up temporary masts on the preferred site of a controversial 24-turbine wind farm proposal have sparked fresh anger among protestors.

E.ON is seeking permission for two 80-metre anemometer masts to monitor wind speed and direction on land near the A1, near Newton Aycliffe , where it hopes to build the Isles wind farm.

The proposal has been fiercely criticised by many nearby residents, who described the latest application as a precursor to the Isles.

News that planning officers have recommended Durham County Council’s planning committee approve the application has heightened their anger.

Susan Fox, of campaign group The Isles Community Turbine Action Campaign (Tictac) will speak against the application at the planning committee meeting, at County Hall, in Durham City, on Tuesday, September 4.

She said: “The trouble with these masts is that they are the precursor to the wind turbines, but we are not allowed to mention them in our argument.

The application has to stand alone, which strikes me as bizarre.

“Regardless of this, they are huge industrial structures which are going up on sensitive and protected land. This is unacceptable.”

The masts are made of tubular steel and, if the application is successful, will be in place for up to 24 months.

One of the masts will be on farm land between Bradbury and Little Isle Farm – a site protected for its landscape character in the Sedgefield Borough Plan. The other mast would be near Preston-le- Skerne, 1.5km from Lodge Lane.

Bradbury and Mordon Parish Council are both opposing the application, and 14 letters of objection have been received. Natural England, the Environment Agency, Northumbrian Water, the council’s public rights of way officer and the Highways Authority have raised no objections.

Senior planning officer Grant Folley, said any decision to grant permission for the masts would not prejudice future planning decisions relating to the Isles or any other developments.

He said it would be wrong to look at the merits of the scheme when deciding on the masts, and said: “The concerns raised have been considered and found not to be sufficient to warrant refusal of the application.”