November 20, 2012

Minimum distance plan for Northumberland turbines wins support

by Brian Daniel, The Journal | Nov 20 2012 |

An “overwhelming” case has been made for guidelines setting out how far wind turbines can be sited from people’s homes in Northumberland, campaigners claim.

Northumberland County Council’s planning chiefs are to consider the issue after the vast majority of people responding to a consultation called for such guidelines to be drawn up.

The authority announced it will undertake further work on the creation of a policy which would set out separation distances which developers would have to abide by.

An anti-wind campaigner in the county last night welcomed the idea, saying Northumberland should follow in the footsteps of other local authorities that have created such policies.

Opposition councillors in the county who have previously called for guidelines on the subject said the case for a policy is now overwhelming, and called for immediate action.

The council has carried out consultation on its core strategy, which will result in creation of a planning framework for Northumberland.

The consultation document asked “in the absence of new national guidance should the core strategy include minimum or recommended separation distances between commercial scale wind developments and residential properties and other sensitive developments?”

A total of 505 responses were made online.

And a spokeswoman for the authority said: “In response to the issues and options consultation there was widespread support from residents on the question of whether the core strategy should include separation distances between wind farms and properties.

“The council is still considering the responses to the consultation and is undertaking further work which includes looking at the merits of identifying separation distances.”

Last night, Cornhill farmer Andrew Joicey called on Northumberland to look at several local authorities in England and Scotland which have defined separation distances.

He said: “I would thoroughly support having separation policies and by doing so it would certainly improve the situation that we have got, which is far too many turbines proposals far too close to houses. There should be separation distances from houses and from public monuments and tourist places and anything that is frequently visited by the public and appreciated.”

The deputy leader of the Conservative opposition group on the authority Glen Sanderson called for the council to set out separation distances, in a motion in September. That failed amid claims it was illegal, with members from all parties choosing not to support it.

Coun Sanderson said: “It is crystal clear that there is overwhelming public support for a minimum separation distance between turbines and homes. There can no longer be any excuses for failing to implement this important policy locally.”

He added: “My fear is that if the council decides to include a minimum separation distance in its new strategy, by then it may already be too late to protect parts of our landscape, economy and communities.”

More than 12,500 comments were made in response to the consultation. Of these, almost 2,000 were made on the section on renewable energy, including wind power.

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