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Berwick wind turbine row sees Northumberland Council criticised

A North East council last night came under fire for failing to take action against a farmer who has erected a wind turbine without planning permission.

Northumberland County Council was criticised over its lack of action against Sinclair Robson, who has installed the turbine on his farm near Berwick.

The local MP and bosses at a nearby holiday park have joined local residents in voicing concern.

Yet the council has said it would be inappropriate to act while a planning application is still live.

Mr Robson was initially given the go-ahead to erect the turbine at his New Haggerston farm by the council’s north area planning committee in February, in line with an officer’s recommendation.

The decision came despite protests from people living nearby. Cornhill farmer Andrew Joicey then sought a judicial review of the decision, and the council’s approval of two other single turbine applications, accusing the authority of procedural errors.

The authority conceded it had erred in some areas and accepted that the High Court in London should quash the permissions. It also agreed to pay Mr Joicey’s costs of more than £10,000.

The High Court subsequently revoked the approvals, meaning the council would have to re-determine the applications.

Mr Robson should therefore not have carried out any work on the turbines until such time as he was given new approval.

But The Journal reported in June how the farmer was assembling the turbine regardless.

The council sent officials to the farm at the time and wrote to Mr Robson asking him to stop until he was granted permission but it had not received a response some time later.

Despite the letter, the farmer has now completed the installation, although the engine is not thought to be operational.

Last night, Mr Joicey and others living in the area told how they had written to the council voicing concern that nothing had been done to stop the turbine being erected.

Some have written who had not objected to the application, saying it sets a bad precedent and could make people think they can proceed with developments without permission and then seek it later.

John Daniels, of nearby Lowick, said: “That is a real concern as well because it was put up without the due process and I think it should have been taken down as soon as the court case said that.”

Berwick Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith and bosses at Haggerston Castle Holiday Park are known to have lodged protests with the council, with the MP saying residents found Mr Robson’s stance “presumptuous and arrogant”.

A council spokeswoman said: “Because the planning application is still live it is not appropriate to take formal action.”

She said the application should be considered at the next planning committee meeting. Mr Robson declined to comment.