A government inspector has given the go-ahead to a giant meteorological mast on green belt land in South Tyneside.
Now there are fears that the 50-metre structure will lead to the creation of a wind farm near the Fellgate Estate in Jarrow.
South Tyneside Council’s planning committee had rejected the application earlier this year – after a 200-name petition was submitted against it.
But the applicant, North Yorkshire-based Empirica Investments – a company specialising in renewable energy products, including wind turbines, appealed against the decision to a Government inspector.
Now the inspector, Graham Snowden, has allowed the firm’s appeal.
In his report, Mr Snowden denied his decision indicated that the site was “necessarily a suitable location for a wind energy development”.
Coun Alan Smith, who represents Fellgate and Hedworth for Labour, expressed his anger and disappointment at the decision.
He’s pledged that the fight begins now to ensure that it does not lead, in time, to the creation of a wind farm.
He said: “I am stunned. This is the loss of green belt land.
“It’s absolutely disgusting. Unfortunately, our hands are now tied and we can’t do anything about it.
“What we must do now is ensure that this does not end with wind turbines. We would fight that every inch of the way.”
Six years ago, plans for a business park and leisure development on a 240-acre green belt site near Fellgate sparked a storm of protest.
Former council leader Paul Waggott eventually lost his seat in the Fellgate and Hedworth ward, after he had failed to back residents in their battle.
In his report, Mr Snowden says: “A favourable decision in this instance could not be taken as an indication that this area is necessarily a suitable location for a wind energy development.
“However, I accept that the current proposal is necessary for the proper assessment of the technical suitability for such a development.
“I conclude that, in this instance, the wider consideration, in terms of the potential contribution the proposal could make in delivery of renewable energy infrastructure, is sufficient to clearly outweigh the harm to the green belt.”
A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “The mast is a temporary fixture that has only been granted permission for 12 months.
“The Inspectorate has made clear this permission isn’t an indication that the area is necessarily a suitable location for wind energy development. “Any further proposals for this site, related to wind turbines or any other development, would require the relevant planning permissions.”
No one from Empirica Investments was available for comment.