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Fury over plan for 50-metre mast in green belt

A green belt row has blown up after plans were revealed for a giant mast in South Tyneside.

About 100 people signed a protest petition against the temporary siting of a 50-metre meteorological mast.

Residents in the Fellgate and Hedworth ward, Jarrow, who staged a successful fight against a controversial business park scheme on the same green belt land six years ago, are equally opposed to the mast, which they claim could trigger a wind farm development.

The plan is for a temporary siting of a 50-metre meteorological mast on land near Laverick Hall Farm, Laverick Lane, West Boldon.

Residents’ spokesman Ron Smith, of Durham Drive, Fellgate, Jarrow, said: “If this gets planning permission, the mast is so tall that you could see it in Tyne Dock.

“Residents are opposed to it, as they are again adamant about protecting the green belt here, as they were when we fought the business park scheme six years ago.

“We have collected a petition, containing more than 100 names, and it will go to the council. This temporary mast would be used to collect data and it seems to be about creating a wind farm there.”

Former South Tyneside Council Labour leader Paul Waggott was voted out by Fellgate and Hedworth residents after not siding with them in a protest against the business park and leisure development on a 240-acre green belt site.

The plans were later thrown out by a Government inspector and in May, 2008, Coun Iain Malcolm, then newly-elected Labour council leader, pledged no developments would be allowed on green belt land bordering the Fellgate estate.

The mast scheme, submitted by Empirica Investments Ltd, a North Yorkshire company specialising in renewable energy projects, including wind turbines, is opposed by local councillors.

Labour member Alan Smith and Independent councillors Linda Hemmer and Steve Harrison are backing residents in their protest.

Coun Smith said: “People on Fellgate are dead against this and I support them all the way.

“They don’t want to see a wind turbine on green belt land. The application is going to the planning committee on January 28 and I have asked to speak against it.”

Coun Harrison, who also plans to object to the application at the meeting, said: “Coun Hemmer and I support residents all the way.

“I believe this mast is all about creating a wind farm on green belt and residents as opposed as they were against the business park.

“Coun Iain Malcolm pledged there would be no developments on and I hope he keeps his promise.”

Applicants Empirica, of Easingwold, specialise in “the multidisciplinary and complex aspects of wind turbine development”.

We contacted Empirica for comment, but received no response.