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Green belt campaigners win fight against weather mast  

Credit:  Sunderland Echo | 29 January 2013 | www.sunderlandecho.com ~~

Campaigners are celebrating after plans for a 50-metre meteorological mast on green belt land were rejected.

Residents were furious when a renewable energy firm proposed to build the mast close to Laverick Hall Farm in Laverick Lane, West Boldon.

The project was put forward by Empirica Investments Ltd, a North Yorkshire firm specialising in renewable energy projects – including wind turbines.

But councillors rejected the plans at a meeting yesterday, expressing concerns that the mast could trigger a bid for a wind turbine farm development on the site at a later date.

Green belt campaigner Ron Smith, 83, of Durham Drive, was among 150 people to sign a petition against the siting of the mast.

He said: “As a resident, I am very pleased that the committee has taken this decision.

“We bought our homes here because this was green belt land and we want it to stay that way.”

Campaigners also staged a successful fight against a controversial business park scheme on the same green belt six years ago.

The latest mast bid was thrown out by a South Tyneside Council planning committee.

At the committee meeting, Labour’s Coun Alan Smith said he believed the intention was to establish a wind turbine farm on the site.

He said: “What is the point on giving this the go-ahead when a wind turbine will be turned down?

“My argument is that it had to be established that there were ‘very special circumstances’ for this to be approved, and these are not.”

Independent Coun Steve Harrison added: “This was yet another attack on green belt after the fight against the business park.

“This was just an application to gather information for a wind farm, and very few people want to live next to a wind turbine.

“Where they have been placed in other parts of the country, peaceful lives have been shattered and the price of homes devalued.

“I’d reiterate what the council leader said, that nothing would be built on that land as long as this administration was in place.”

Labour’s Bill Brady, who represents Whiteleas, added: “There was only one reason for this application and that was to find out if it was viable for a wind farm.”

Source:  Sunderland Echo | 29 January 2013 | www.sunderlandecho.com

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