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Northumberland County Council under pressure over wind turbines

Council bosses in Northumberland are being urged to take “decisive action” to manage the spread of wind turbines, amid claims they have shown a “lack of leadership” on the issue.

A motion to that effect has been put to a full meeting of Northumberland County Council taking place tomorrow, by Glen Sanderson, deputy leader of its opposition Conservative group.

It claims Northumberland faces “the largest pressure from speculative developers of any English county” and calls on the authority to ask the government to cut subsidies paid to companies.

However, the leading Liberal Democrat group has accused the Tories of “utter hypocrisy,” highlighting their leader Peter Jackson’s moves to site a turbine on his land.

Coun Sanderson last night hit back by accusing the Lib Dems of playing “party politics” over a serious issue.

The motion states: “This council sees an urgent need 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.

“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.”

Coun Sanderson calls on the authority to set out guidelines on acceptable distances from turbines to properties, to set criteria relating to cumulative impact, and to only accept applications for engines after all procedural requirements have been fully carried out.

His motion adds: “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. Therefore, this council will write to the Secretary of State to request that the subsidies for onshore wind power via the Renewables Obligation, the Feed-in Tariff, and the forthcoming Electricity Market Reform package are drastically reduced to prevent speculative and inappropriate development.”

But the Lib Dems have raised Coun Jackson’s involvement in plans, previously reported by The Journal, to site a single turbine on his land near Ponteland.

Executive member Coun Arthur Pegg 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.”

Yet Coun Sanderson responded: “The motion has nothing to do about personalities and I really do not want party politics brought into this and I am sorry the Liberals are. This is a totally non party political point.

“We have got to have a stronger line urgently before the county is covered in wind turbines. Party politics is a cheap distraction from what is a serious issue and someone has got to stick their head above the parapet. I am prepared to do this and if it means I get targeted that is fine.

“We are letting our residents down if we are seen to be bickering, I am not going to get drawn into that.”

We have got to have a stronger line urgently before the county is covered in wind turbines