September 4, 2012

Lib Dems slam Tory hypocrisy over wind turbine development

The Berwick Advertiser | 3 September 2012

Liberal Democrats in Northumberland have slammed the Conservatives for their ‘utter hypocrisy’ over wind power development in the county.

Ahead of a motion to be debated at Wednesday’s full Council meeting, the Conservative group on Northumberland County Council called on the authority to take a more anti-wind power line – even though there have been planning applications submitted to build turbines on land owned by their leader, Councillor Peter Jackson.

Councillor Arthur Pegg, a member of the council’s ruling Lib Dem executive, said: “If the Conservatives are so against building wind turbines in Northumberland, why is their leader trying to have them built on his own land?

“Yet again, the Conservatives are trying to tell everyone else in Northumberland that there should be one rule for them and another for the rest of us.

“I am sure that the people of Northumberland, whatever their views on wind farms, will see through the Conservatives’ posturing on this issue and see the utter hypocrisy behind it.”

This is not the first time the Conservatives have been accused of hypocrisy on this issue. There was huge controversy when Conservative former County Council member Neil Carmichael, who is now a Gloucestershire MP, supported a turbine planning application on his land in Northumberland while campaigning against wind power development during his 2010 General Election campaign.

Councillor Pegg’s comments came following the Deputy Prime Minister’s visit to the north east last week, during which he spoke of the great potential to grow of the region’s renewable energy sector.

In his motion to the council, Councillor Glen Sanderson urged the council to take decisive action to limit and manage the spread of onshore wind turbines in our county, in the interests of the local environment and of residents living near to turbines.

He said: “Across the UK, councils are debating, and passing, policies with the purpose of limiting and managing applications for turbine development. Other councils have provided clear leadership on the wind farm issue, leadership which is as yet clearly lacking in Northumberland.

“We can no longer afford to wait for decisive action, when we face the largest pressure from speculative developers of any English County and already have a large amount of turbines built or approved.”

He called for the council to accept no new applications for a wind turbine unless it meets minimum distance requirements of 1km for a 50m tall turbine, 1.5km for a 100m tall turbine, 2km for a 150m tall turbine and 3km for anything over 150m tall.

He also wants to the council to set criteria relating to the cumulative impact of individual wind farms and wind turbines, to protect local residents, economy, landscape, environment and sites of cultural heritage.

Lastly, he requests that the council will only accept applications for wind turbines after all procedural requirements as outlined in PPS 22 and other planning guidance have been fully carried out.

He said: “The recent reductions in subsidy will not dissuade speculative developers seeking to cover Northumberland in wind turbines. Furthermore, it will not deliver significant reductions in energy cost for consumers. Since these subsidies have a regressive impact, and affect those on lower incomes more than those on higher incomes, this is a point of great concern in Northumberland where we suffer the shame of some of the worst fuel poverty in the country.”

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