Tighter planning controls need to be put in place to ensure Northumberland does not become a wind farm landscape like the neighbouring Lammermuirs in the Scottish Borders.
That is the view of Dr Geoffrey Purves, chairman of the Northumberland and Newcastle Society which campaigns on heritage issues.
He has written to town and parish councils calling for their support in influencing the new Local Development Framework currently being prepared by Northumberland County Council.
Dr Purves said: “The dangers facing the Northumberland landscape are starkly illustrated by a journey through the Lammermuir Hills in the Scottish Borders, which have now become an archetypal ‘wind farm landscape’.
“As a result, the Scottish Borders Council has had to institute much stricter guidelines for wind farm applications.
“Northumberland’s outstanding quality is the nature, remoteness and tranquillity of its countryside: it would be a real tragedy for our county if it came to resemble the Lammermuir Hills before the council adopted a more balanced approach than that proposed by the Core Issues document.”
The Core Issues document in effect proposes a continuation of the present policy that any application for wind energy is a welcome addition to the county’s contribution to renewable energy and will be accepted unless there is some very good reason not to.
The Northumberland and Newcastle Society is proposing an alternative approach which includes a call for fixed separation distances between houses and turbines, depending on their height.
Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith is among those who have supported the idea.
Dr Purves explained: “The alternative approach proposed by the society is one which puts the onus on the applicant to satisfy more stringent criteria before an application will be considered.
“The council may thereby seek a better balance between support for renewable energy on the one hand; and the harm to the outstanding landscape and heritage assets on which Northumberland’s rural economy and tourism depends, as well as the harm to our residential amenity, on the other.”
It has called for turbines to be excluded from the most sensitive parts of the county and within certain distances from their boundaries, such as the national park and AONB.
The society also believes proposals which would harm principal views of and from the Cheviots should be refused.
Similarly, it says proposals which would adversely affect tourism or the setting of heritage assets should be refused while it also warns of the need to avoid unacceptable cumulative impact of wind turbine developments.
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