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Contested mast plan for beauty spot is kicked out

The prospect of a windfarm in the Coquet Valley, less than two miles from the National Park, has been blocked by county councillors.

And the Ministry of Defence came under attack for failing to oppose wind-speed masts for turbine prospectors in the valleys around Otterburn military training area.

The latest example was at Charity Hall, Sharperton, where the ministry made no objection to a mast, but requested it be topped by a red light that was lit night and day to warn off aircraft.

Councillors heard it was an area where fast jets fly as low as 200 feet and other aircraft carry troops for air drops over the ranges.

Speaking at Northumberland County Council’s planning committee last Tuesday, Coun John Taylor said: “I think it really is absolutely reprehensible in the MoD response that they are not taking a more robust attitude to this – it’s really serious.

“I’m glad that the National Park have decided to get off the fence and really start to defend the views from their area of responsibility.”

Coun Taylor moved refusal, which was carried by six votes to three with four abstentions.

There were 18 objections to the 50-metre mast, 1.4 miles east of Sharperton, 1.7 miles north east of Holystone and almost three miles north west of Thropton. The nearest homes are about ⅔mile away.

Objectors considered it out of place on an unspoilt tourist route and feared the turbines to which the mast could lead could have a ‘devastating effect’ on the area. There was a late objection from the National Park, citing visual impact in an open landscape/uninterrupted skyline.

John Lines, of Sharperton, urged members to protect the beautiful area from such schemes.

Planning officer Judith Murphy had said that it was considered that the mast would not lead to the level of detriment indicated by objectors, adding it was not an application for a windfarm/wind turbine.

A mast had been turned down at Belford for proximity to the National Park, but not as close as this. A planning officer had rejected a smaller installation farther down the valley at Thropton.