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Energiekontor appeals council decision to reject Fenrother wind farm plans

A green energy company whose controversial wind farm scheme was rejected by Northumberland planners has revealed it will challenge the decision.

Yesterday local people expressed dismay and disappointment that German-owned Energiekontor UK is to press ahead with its plans to build five turbines – each 126 metres tall – on farmland close to the rural hamlet of Fenrother, north of Morpeth.

Two months ago county councillors voted unanimously to reject the application – which had sparked more than 1,600 letters of protest and a 71,000-word objection document from a local action group.

Planning committee members accepted the advice of their officers to refuse permission for the scheme, which was also opposed by two local parish councils, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Northumberland National Park, Morpeth Civic Society and the Northumberland Badger Group.

Yesterday it was revealed that Energiekontor UK has submitted an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate – and a final decision will now be taken by the Secretary of State after a public inquiry is held this summer.

Dr James Lunn, who lives in Fenrother with wife Gemma and young daughter Imogen, and heads up the local action group, described the company as “like a rash which just won’t go away.”

He said: “Residents had only just started to get their lives back on track when this news came. Once again a wind farm company is subjecting not only local people, but also the council and taxpayers, to costs of tens of thousands of pounds, by pursuing their plans. The reaction has been one of dismay because we want to get on with our lives.

“We feel we have put a very strong case together, but now we just want closure. I would strongly renew my message to all of Northumberland: we are under attack and we must fight together to protect our county, our homes and our environment.”

Conservative councillor Glen Sanderson, who represents the area on the county council, said: “I am very disappointed, but not wholly surprised, given the huge financial gains to be made from this application.

“Local people remain wholly against this scheme and I sincerely hope that the planning inspector will fully understand the strength of local feeling.”

County council planning officers came up with several reasons for the application to be rejected, saying it would have significant and unacceptable impacts on the landscape and local residents.

Energiekontor project manager Sam Dewar said: “Fenrother is an important project that will bring major benefits and provide a significant contribution to the area. This includes delivering enough renewable energy to power more than 7,900 homes.

“There is no doubt that the evidence and studies completed so far point to the fact that the site is suitable and capable of accommodating a small scale wind farm of just five turbines.”

Mr Dewar said the wind farm would be about 11km from the National Park. He also claims the site is not located in the green belt and the turbines would be more than 800m from local properties.