November 9, 2012

Turbines get reprieve after long legal fight

Northumberland Gazette | 9 November 2012 |

The fate of two farmers’ wind turbine projects has finally been decided, nine months after they were halted by the High Court.

County councillors had originally approved both applications for single turbines, at Ford and New Haggerston, but a judicial review found procedural errors and omissions and the whole process had to be repeated.

North planning committee members on Thursday night considered refusing permission for the Ford application, but in the end approved both, amid applause from supporters.

The turbine at New Haggerston Farm was erected but not commissioned. Farmer Sinclair Robson told the committee this had been done in good faith, because he had received no notice from the council halting work and was unaware of the judicial review until a council officer visited to see why it was going ahead.

He said he had been subjected to “one-sided Press reports” because of the mix-up. “The lack of communication from the council, never mind the lack of any apology, has not made things any easier.”

His application for a turbine of 34.2m to rotor tip was approved eight-one by the committee at the Northumberland Hall in Alnwick.

North planning manager Peter Rutherford said the legal issues at judicial review had included the way the council had considered the impact of the turbines, its reference to policies inherited from the old Berwick Borough Council, noise consideration and the cumulative impact of windfarms.

After the process had been repeated, the outcome was no change in the recommendation to approve both these schemes.

The proposed 47.1m turbine at Brackenside Farm, Ford, was opposed at the meeting by Jamie Lamb, whose family runs Barmoor Castle Country Park and hopes to restore the castle. “We believe this proposal represents a threat to the stability of our family business,” he said. The castle was historically important and the country park created local jobs.

George Barber said he was the third generation of his family to farm Brackenside and they cared about the countryside and landscape. There was evidence elsewhere turbines did not deter tourists.

Coun Isobel Hunter moved refusal, seconded by Coun Dougie Watkin, citing visual impact, effect on the listed castle and a site of special scientific interest.

The motion was lost seven-two and the application was approved seven-two after other councillors argued there was no reason to turn it down.

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