Concerns about the impact of wind turbines on tourism are still driving calls to protect Teesdale’s “exceptional” landscapes from developments.
Though parts of the upper dale have special protection against developments because of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the rest of Teesdale does not.
But members of Teesdale Action Partnership (TAP) are still hoping to change that by increasing protection for the area’s “exceptional” landscapes.
It has submitted its suggestions for changes to the final draft of the County Durham Plan which will guide development in the area until 2030.
After last year’s consultation TAP wanted to see more protection for landscapes because of concerns that wind turbines could impact on tourism to the area.
But though the calls were ignored when final version of the plan was drafted, they have been carrying out research to look at the link between turbines and tourism.
And as a result they are calling on planners to include “an enhanced level of protection” for rural landscapes with tourism value.
A report which has been submitted to Durham County Council says: “TAP feels that special consideration does need to be given when considering developments that may impact on the local tourist area.
“Recent anecdotal evidence suggests that where there are a high number of wind turbines this has had an impact on the number of tourists visiting the area.
“As tourism is a key economic driver for the Teesdale area TAP would ask that the link between turbines and tourism is properly considered.”
The Mountaineering Council of Scotland is currently carrying out a survey to find out what impact turbines has on walking in certain areas because of anecdotal evidence that more people are travelling to Cumbria because of wind farm developments.
No changes can be made to the plan at this stage, but all comments submitted to the council will be sent to an independent planning inspector who will be examining the plan in March.
TAP is also calling for more housing to be allocated to the dale, along with more land for employment and retail, particularly around Barnard Castle.
The report says: “The designation of land needs to stimulate opportunities for growth in local communities by maintaining proposed development land at an equivalent level to that which was in the previous Teesdale Plan.
“There are a high percentage of micro businesses in the Teesdale area and these should be given every encouragement to develop, building local employment opportunities thus contributing to the sustainability of towns and villages and helping to stimulate and create a balanced economy.
“Active retail planning is needed in Teesdale as many people need to travel out of the immediate area. TAP feels that further retail developments are required, especially in Barnard Castle. It is also important to stop the migration of shoppers to the developments at St Helen Auckland and beyond.”
There were also concerns voiced about retail space in villages being lost because of being turned into housing.
The Lord Nelson pub in Gainford was given as an example, as permission has recently been given to turn it into a house.
TAP is also hoping to get plans for a relief road for Barnard Castle included in the plan to try and alleviate the problem of HGVs in the town centre.
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