County Durham has reached its renewable energy targets so there is no need to build new wind farms in the countryside, Teesdale Local Council Forum says.
The group, which represents 46 town and parish councils in the district, has called for Teesdale and Weardale to be excluded from any future wind farm developments.
Chairman Ted Henderson said: “We’ve all discussed it and the individual councils have said there should not be another wind farm. Durham County Council has hit the target they need for renewables and they do not need another. Teesdale and Weardale should be left unspoilt.”
The objection follows an application by Banks Renewables to erect four 125-metre turbines at Windy Bank between Hamsterley and Woodland.
Sixteen town and parish councils in Teesdale have already objected to the application.
Woodland parish councillor Alistair Rutter, who has been contacting the councils for support, said more than 24 have agreed to object.
He said: “I’m as pleased as punch really. I think they know how serious this is. I am overwhelmed with Barnard Castle Town Council’s support and all the local parish councils as well. It has been fantastic.”
The dale’s economy depends heavily on tourism and the wind farm would directly affect this, he said.
He said: “It is right off Hamsterley Forest which had about 200,000 visitors last year. It is less than two kilometres from the North Pennines AONB.”
Heavy vehicles passing through Hamsterley and Woodland during the construction phase would disrupt villagers’ lives, he said.
He added: “There will be impact on wildlife displacement. The forest is home to protected bat species and the golden plover, lapwing and curlew have all been in decline.”
But Miles Crossley, senior business development manager at Banks Renewables, said: “While we respect the right of everyone to express their views about any of our projects, our discussions with many local people in the communities surrounding the Windy Bank site would suggest that the parish councils’ views are far from universally held in their respective areas.
“We have continued to work hard in these areas to clearly outline the economic, employment, environmental, supply chain and social benefits that the Windy Bank scheme would bring to the area, and have found that increasing numbers of local people and businesses are both recognising these benefits and registering their support for our plans.
“About 30 jobs would be created during the site preparation and construction phases of the Windy Bank scheme, and local firms would also have the chance to tender for a range of related contracts worth up to around £3.5million.
“The community benefits fund associated with the scheme would be worth around £70,000 every year, or up to £1.75million over the project’s 25-year lifespan, and Banks has been developing new measures to boost local employment opportunities, improve access to apprenticeships and enhance skills training.
“County Durham does not have specific renewable energy generation targets to reach, and we believe that we all have a collective responsibility for meeting the many significant energy and environmental challenges that the UK has to address if we’re to reduce our dependence on unreliable energy imports from potentially unstable and distant overseas markets.”
He said the turbines would generate more clean and green energy.
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