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Battle lines drawn over proposed mast

Campaigners against a giant mast on the green belt in South Tyneside have vowed to fight – as planners say the scheme should get the green light.

There are fears a 50-metre meteorological mast near Fellgate Estate in Jarrow will lead to the creation of a wind farm near residents’ homes.

Protesters have submitted a 168-name petition and letters of objection to South Tyneside Council, but councillors are being recommended to approve the project.

Residents’ spokesman Ron Smith, of Durham Drive, Fellgate, said: “This is disappointing. Residents collected a petition against this and there seems no doubt the mast will lead to plans for a wind farm.” Coun Alan Smith, a Labour member for the Fellgate and Hedworth ward opposed to development on green belt there, said: “This means we have a fight on our hands.”

Six years ago, ex-South Tyneside Council leader Paul Waggott ost his Fellgate and Hedworth ward seat, after failing to back residents in their opposition to an eventually junked business park and leisure development scheme on the green belt near Fellgate.

Coun Steve Harrison, an Independent member for Fellgate and Hedworth ward, said: “Coun Iain Malcolm, our current council leader, previously said he would oppose any green belt development near Fellgate, so I want to know if he still stands by his promise.”

The application has been submitted by Empirica Investments Ltd, based in Easingwold, North Yorkshire, specialising in renewable energy.

The report on the mast application concludes: “The proposed mast will be in a field some distance from surrounding public highways and its visual impact will be further reduced by the narrowness of the mast. It is considered the mast will have no detrimental impact in visual terms.

“The issue of development in the green belt has been examined in detail and it is concluded that special circumstances have been demonstrated, by virtue of the connection of this development with the generation of renewable energy and the temporary nature of the development.

“While concern has been expressed by residents that this will be followed by a wind farm, any such proposals will require a further application.”

The application will be considered at South Shields Town Hall, on Monday, January 28, at 10am.