Developers behind the Belford Burn wind farm proposal have had their appeal against the refusal of a met mast heard by a planning inspector.
Energiekontor wants to erect a 60m monitoring mast to measure wind speeds on the site and lodged an appeal after its initial application was refused by Northumberland County Council.
Middleton Burn Action Group (MBAG) hired experts in landscape and an ecologist to prepare reports in support of its case against the appeal.
And, even if the appeal is successful, the protest group is increasingly confident that planners will turn down the proposal to build nine turbines, each 100m tall. That follows the council planning committee’s decision – backed by planning officers – to refuse an application for five 126m tall turbines at Fenrother, north of Morpeth, due to landscape and cumulative impact concerns.
MBAG vice chairman Kerry Noble said: “The developer has to show a need for the erection of the mast.
“That need is stated as the requirement to monitor wind speeds to test the viability of a nine turbine, industrial scale windfarm.
“The area concerned is of much higher landscape value than that of Fenrother.
“It is a certainty, therefore, that Northumberland County Council will refuse any such planning permission for that windfarm and the ‘need’ for a met mast becomes totally redundant.”
Mr Noble also asked the planning inspector to consider the mast not on its own, but with up to 300 bird diverters, which the RSPB requested be attached and council officers had agreed to if approved.
In a letter to the inspector, he claims the mast with diverters – said to glow at night – would be like “a Christmas tree with full decorations and lights.” Michael Briggs, Energiekontor’s project manager for the Belford Burn site, said of the appeal: “It is now with the planning Inspectorate and being considered in accordance with a set timetable.
“The planning inspectorate will issue its decision on the appeal in a number of weeks having considered the planning merits of the case and any comments made by the local planning authority, consultees and other third parties.”
Meanwhile, wind farm protesters have employed remote control helicopters armed with cameras in their effort to show how big an impact the turbines will have.
They have used the equipment to gather video footage and photographs from the height of the proposed turbines.