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Controversial Wark Common wind turbine plans withdrawn

Controversial plans to site a 71 metre wind turbine near Cornhill have been withdrawn amid criticism from bosses at Northumberland National Park.

Northumberland County Council granted planning permission for a 275kw engine at Wark Common Farm back in February, despite receiving more than 40 formal objections.

However, that decision was later quashed following a judicial review brought by Cornhill landowner Andrew Joicey, who claimed there had been errors in the council’s handling of three wind turbine applications, including the one at Wark Common.

Northumberland County Council conceded that proper procedure had not been followed, and consent for all three turbines was overturned by the High Court in June.

Now the application for the turbine at Wark Common has been withdrawn ahead of its redetermination after national park planners ruled it was lacking in vital information.

In a letter to the county council, Northumberland National Park Authority said it considered the information provided in the re-application to be “deficient” in terms of the level of landscape and visual impact work undertaken.

Highlighting a lack of research about the impact the turbine would have on views from key sites within the national park, it wrote: “Without sufficient landscape and visual impact information, it is difficult for either the National Park Authority or the council to be fully confident that the proposed development is appropriate in landscape terms.”

Welcoming the news that the plans had been withdrawn by applicants Straker-Smith Farms, Mr Joicey said: “This very point, about poor visualisation work, had been made in many of the letters of objection from local people, yet the county council planners had failed to pick up or accept that there was any deficiency with the application.”

In addition to concerns about landscape and visual impacts, Mr Joicey said there had also been concern that the noise prediction submitted with the application was deficient and flawed.

“Local people sought the opinion of a professional wind farm acoustician whose report was presented to the county council officers, yet they chose to ignore this, accepting the flawed assessment by the applicant’s agents without question,” he said.

However, Mr Joicey added that “due credit” should be given to any applicant who withdraws an application having listened to those who would have to live with the “unwelcome and far reaching” effects.

He said: “Making an application of this nature can cost a great deal of money, so if the applicant in this case has withdrawn his application because the concerns of the local community have been confirmed, then those people should be genuinely grateful to him.”

Having withdrawn the application, Mr Straker-Smith said there had been a technical problem with the turbine model at the site.