September 5, 2012

Campaigners’ joy after temporary masts rejected

By Lizzie Anderson | 5 September 2012

Campaigners fighting to stop the creation of a 24-turbine wind farm in County Durham reacted with delight after plans were refused for temporary masts.

Energy firm E.ON had sought permission for two 80m anemometer masts to monitor wind speed and direction on land close to the A1, near Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, where it hopes to build The Isles Wind Farm.

However, members of Durham County Council’s planning committee rejected the application yesterday, citing the impact on a landscape protected within the Sedgefield Borough Plan.

Councillor Mike Dixon highlighted how the second phase of consultation for The Isles was drawing to a close, adding: “What is the point – that is what I want to know?

“Surely for them to get this far through the process they must know the site is suitable for a wind farm. It seems to me this application is coming at the wrong time.”

Coun George Richardson, meanwhile, said putting temporary masts in a sensitive landscape would be “sacrilegious.”

Susan Fox, of campaign group The Isles Community Turbine Action Campaign (Tictac), spoke against the application during the meeting at County Hall.

She said E.ONs application had been flawed, with gaps in the design and access statement making it hard for the public to visualize the masts. Mrs Fox also questioned why importance had been attached to the temporary nature of the masts, which would be in place for up to two years.

“A prominent industrial structure is unacceptable in this location regardless of how long it is there,” she said. “If it is unsuitable in an environment it is unsuitable. If there was an application for a 80m mast on Palace Green in front of Durham Cathedral for two years or even two weeks of course it would be turned down.”

However, planning officer Allan Simpson said planners had adequate information. He described the masts as slim and lightweight and said the impact on the landscape would be minimal.

Speaking after the meeting, Mrs Fox said she was “surprised and delighted” at the outcome.

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