A village has vowed to fight an application by a wind farm company to remove a planning condition on a nearby development that could protect residents from unacceptable levels of noise.
Dozens packed into Sadberge Village Hall to make their feelings clear about plans by Banks Renewables to amend the planning permission for the six-turbine Moor House wind farm, which is yet to be built on land near the village.
Banks Renewables has applied to Darlington Borough Council to remove a condition about the prevention and monitoring of amplitude modulation (AM), a rare noise side effect of some wind farms that can cause annoyance and sleep deprivation to those living nearby.
The company claims the planning condition is redundant because there is no legal definition of AM and how to prevent it, and argues its environmental management plan, covering all aspects of how the windfarm will operate, will protect residents should AM occur.
Members of Sadberge Parish Council, and village residents, told representatives of Banks Renewables they will fight to ensure the condition stays, because it is the village’s only legal protection to force the company to deal with AM, should it occur.
Chris Rush, an environmental specialist for Banks Renewables, told the meeting: “We’ve sat down with our legal and technical advisors about whether the condition is valid and whether it will work.
“The view is it doesn’t work and we would not be able to respond to it and it would not work for Sadberge because it’s not a valid condition. We want to find peace of mind so that all noise complaints are investigated but in a way that acceptable to all parties.
“We know that what you want is that if there is a noise once the wind farm is built, that you can call someone and they will come and check it out – that’s what the environmental management plan offers.”
In response, Alastair Mackenzie, Sadbege parish clerk, said: “We need a legally binding condition that allows Darlington Borough Council to act on our behalf and force Banks to act if AM pops up. I believe there is a higher than average risk of it happening on this site based on the wind data I’ve collected.”
Councillor Brian Jones, ward member for Sadberge, said: “If it’s not a problem, then why worry about the condition protecting against it at all? You are not giving me a reasonable reason to withdraw it.”
The matter will be dealt with by a special meeting of Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee on February 6.
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