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Withdrawal of turbines bid delights residents

There was joy and relief for residents opposed to plans for wind turbines in a prominent location near a Northumberland village when they discovered that they had been withdrawn.

Urban Wind Ltd had put forward an application to install two Northern Power Systems (NPS) structures, 35metres to blade tip, on land south-west of Watch Hill farm in the parish of Whalton.

Although smaller than other bids for turbines on the edge of Morpeth, the choice of site caused great concern among many people in the community. They were among the hundreds that had spent 18 months fighting a proposal by Wind Ventures for a windfarm at the former Tranwell Airfield, which was turned down by the county council’s planning and environment committee in December.

There were more than 25 objections to the Watch Hill bid.

Those against the plans said that the wind turbines would be visually intrusive from the road and part of the main street in Whalton, they would have a detrimental impact on tourism and the site is in one of the county council’s proposed green-belt extension areas.

Whalton Parish Council chair Penny Norton said: “We were all cock-a-hoop when we heard that the application had been withdrawn.

“We haven’t been told why but we hope that whatever the reason, it won’t be re-submitted.

“The turbines would have been on a ridge, so they would have been seen for miles and miles and this meant that there were people in nearby villages who were also concerned.

“We’re also relieved because it was completely gutting when the bid was lodged.

“We had 18 months of stress with the Tranwell windfarm plans and we were just a month away from the appeal deadline.

“We have worked well with Mitford and Stannington Parish Councils to fight these bids.

“There is a definite feeling of how we want our neighbourhoods to look.”

In its application, Urban Wind said that NPS turbines are capable of generating a significant amount of electricity despite their size.

It also said: “There are only a very small number of natural and cultural heritage assets in proximity to the proposal site and no significant negative impacts to these are predicted.

“An unobstructed view of the turbines is not anticipated from any part of the Whalton Conservation Area, owing to the mature trees that stand to the east of the village and along the village’s main street.”

As well as individuals and parish councils, the Tranwell Windfarm Action Group (set up to oppose the windfarm application for the former Tranwell Airfield site) also objected.

Its submission included the following: “Whilst the proposed turbines are lower in size than some recent applications, they would be placed on a highly prominent position along a well-used recreational route from Morpeth to Belsay through the conservation village of Whalton and they will be in a direct line to the main street of Whalton.

“The turbines will also be visually intrusive to residents within the parishes of Belsay, Stannington and Mitford.

“The cumulative impact of the proposed development on the landscape is a relevant planning consideration.

“It must include windfarms in Wingates, Cramlington, Widdrington and Lynemouth and other major development in the locality, including opencast mining at Shotton and Well Hill, flood defences at the Mitford Estate and major development taking place at St Mary’s Hospital.

“We also object to the application on the potential impact on tourism.

“Tourism in Northumberland is one of the main employers and also one of the most significant in terms of income.”