June 4, 2013

Decision time on County Durham wind turbine sites

by Rachel Wearmouth, The Journal | Jun 4 2013 | www.journallive.co.uk

Three separate planning applications to build wind turbines in County Durham will be decided today by councillors.

The proposals attracted more than 250 objections in total from the public, Ministry of Defence, Newcastle International Airport and wildlife groups.

Planning officers have recommended that two should be refused but said the third should be given the go-ahead.

Renewable energy firm Regeneco wants to build two turbines on land near South Moor Golf Club, The Middles, Stanley.

The turbines would supply the golf club and excess electricity would go to the National Grid.

The plan led to seven letters of objection but a petition in support had 149 signatures.

Objectors said the turbines could harm the bat population, while Newcastle International Airport said they could interfere with its radar.

Senior planning officer Ann Rawlinson has recommended that the development is refused.

She said: “The turbines and their associated infrastructure would result in the loss of woodland, hedge and other vegetation.”

Proposals for a 50 metre-high turbine for Middle Heads Farm in Rowley, near Consett, will also be considered. But residents fear the development will lead to more turbines.

The Ministry of Defence also says the turbine would “cause unacceptable interference” to an air defence radar planned for RAF Brizlee Wood.

Farmer David Dixon put in the application, prompted by “an increasingly uncertain economic outlook”.

He said: “The recent poor weather and the difficult lambing season serve as an illustration of the hardship that has to be encountered as a part of the modern challenge of farming.

“Diversification into renewable energy provides a vital income for hard-pressed farmers when farm budgets have become stretched.”

However, his application has also been recommended for refusal.

Renewable energy firm Whirlwind put in the third application for a turbine between Craghead Lane and Humbleburn Lane, near Craghead.

Almost 200 residents have objected with many worried about the visual impact and wildlife.

MP Kevan Jones has written to Durham County Council to ask that constituents’ views are taken into consideration.

Despite this, planning officers have recommended the development for approval.

Allan Simpson, team leader for the authority’s strategic team, said: “The proposed wind turbine would make a contribution towards the overall supply of renewable energy, and contribute towards reaching regional and national targets in terms of energy production.”

The County Planning Committee will meet at 2pm today at County Hall in Durham City.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/06/04/decision-time-on-county-durham-wind-turbine-sites/