A decision on whether to remove a planning condition on a windfarm development that could protect residents from unacceptable levels of noise has been deferred to look at alternative legal safeguards.
Banks Renewables applied to Darlington Borough Council to remove a condition about the prevention and monitoring of amplitude modulation (AM), a noise side effect of some windfarms, at its six-turbine development at Moor House, on the outskirts of Darlington.
The council’s planning committee agreed to delay a decision to allow officers to work with the company to see if it is possible to agree an alternative legally-binding document that governs how potential AM complaints would be dealt with.
Residents from a number of villages in the area, which has not yet started construction, spoke against the bid to remove the condition, which they claim will leave them without legal protection should AM occur.
AM is a rare noise sound effect detected at some UK windfarms and can produce an intermittent, low-level thudding noise in certain conditions.
The company argued that the planning condition is redundant because there is no legal definition of AM and how to prevent it, and that its environmental management plan (EMP), which covers all aspects of how the windfarm will operate, offers the legal protection both residents and the council want.
Planning officer Roy Merritt said the council had received legal advice that the condition is not enforceable as it stands, but that as the EMP is currently written, it too would not be legally enforceable.
Mark Dowdal, a representative for Banks, said the company was willing to rewrite the EMP to satisfy concerns about AM.
He said: “We will work with council officers to agree a plan that will be reviewed each year.
“It will provide an agreed method of investigating and dealing with any noise complaints.
“The council will have a legally binding agreement in place for dealing with any concerns raised by residents.”
Peter Wood, who spoke on behalf of the Seven Parishes Action Group, called for the council to rewrite the AM condition to make it legally enforceable instead of removing it.
Committee chairman Paul Baldwin proposed that the condition be removed, subject to a revised EMP that must be agreed by the committee at a later date, and found to be legally binding.
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