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Turbines ‘should be further from homes’

Minimum separation distances between wind turbines and homes are proposed in a new council planning consultation.

The Northumberland Core Strategy will provide a spacial plan for the county to set out the intended overall land-use and guide future development to 2030.

Once adopted, it will become part of the statutory development plan and will supersede older existing polices from the former borough and county councils.

Next month, a six-week public consultation is due to begin on the Preferred Options for the strategy, including how wind-turbine applications should be treated.

Northumberland County Council is suggesting that future proposals will need to consider the cumulative impact of all consented windfarms and there will be a presumption against turbines within a distance of six times their blade-tip height of residential properties.

Officers say it is recognised that there is a limit to the scale of such development that can be accommodated and there is a need to balance the generation of renewable energy with the need to protect the county’s environment and communities from significant adverse impact.

However, Dr James Lunn, who led a successful campaign to stop a five-turbine scheme being built at Fenrother, near Longhorsley, says the proposals do not go far enough as other councils have adopted greater separation distances.

“I think it is an excellent first step, but it is nothing more than that,” he said.

“There are clearly issues that have to be resolved, but it is a move in the right direction and it shows that the council is hearing what the majority of residents are saying.

“I personally feel that the separation distance should be greater and the council should offer its residents more protection. I would like it to show that our officers are offering the same protection that is accorded elsewhere to residents.

“I hope we can come up with a better formula for determining how close wind turbines are to houses. It could be that more houses grouped together need more protection than individual dwellings, but a figure of six times the height seems to be very much a wind industry figure and I think it needs to be further.”

The policy has been suggested following an initial Issues and Options consultation between May and August last year and ongoing engagement with stakeholders such as town and parish councils.

During the exercise more than 12,500 comments were submitted by more than 1,100 respondents, adding to the views of 950 people who attended feedback events.

The consultation showed many residents in support of windfarm separation distances.

The Preferred Options document will be presented to the council’s Executive on Monday with a recommendation to approve it for consultation.