An anti-wind campaign group has issued a plea to councillors in Northumberland to safeguard the county from further “excessive” development.
The Northumberland and Newcastle Society has carried out research which it says proves that the county has done more than its fair share in delivering renewable energy capacity.
The society, aided by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), claims Northumberland has been “disproportionately” targeted by wind developers, does not have a high wind resource and has suffered damage to its “treasured” landscapes.
It has now sent the results to all 67 members of Northumberland County Council – as well as all parish councils in the county – in a bid to ensure they are reflected in the authority’s under preparation core strategy planning document.
The society’s letter, written by chairman Dr Geoffrey Purves with CPRE acting North East chairman Prof Howard Elcock, comes to the “irrefutable conclusion that the county is suffering excessively and disproportionately in its contribution to national policy ends”.
It claims that – according to government figures scrutinised by member and Kirkwhelpington resident Bill Short – Northumberland’s approved turbines comprise almost 10% of the total installed and consented capacity for the whole country.
Yet 14 counties said to make up a quarter of England have between them given to the go-ahead to less than 10% of the county council’s approvals, the group says.
The research also reportedly shows that Northumberland has a “very poor wind resource.”
And the letter warns councillors how most of the approved schemes within Northumberland are within “sensitive landscapes” and can be viewed from within “still more” sensitive areas.
Communities “affected by these developments face literally years of uncertainty; local people feel besieged while property values, treasured landscapes and amenities are threatened,” the letter says.
And the authors conclude: “Only a concerted campaign by the county’s elected representatives, combined with the confident application of robust planning policies (the eventual result, we hope of the emerging core strategy) will have any impact in defending the county’s landscapes and the communities within them.
“We invite you to acknowledge the need for that campaign in which the council will have our full support and that of the vast majority of the county’s residents.”
The county council said further consultation will take place on the core strategy and that it has been working with the society on renewable energy issues in its preparation.
A spokesperson said: “The information provided to councillors is very detailed and will take time to study.
“However in terms of wind farms, each application is judged on its individual merit, taking into account local and national planning policy.
“The council’s renewable energy policies are also being reviewed through the core strategy, which is due to be published in the coming weeks, and will give all Northumberland communities the opportunity for further consultation.
“Officers have already worked closely with the Northumberland and Newcastle Society on renewable energy issues as part of the preparation of this draft plan.”
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