Councillors have rejected plans for a wind farm – despite the developers offering to help local jobless people.
Infinis wanted to put up five turbines with a maximum tip height of 115 metres on land at Wingate Grange Farm, near Wingate, Wheatley Hill and Deaf Hill.
The company offered an employability scheme for the training of 500 unemployed residents as well as subsidised electricity to three community centres.
But Durham County Council’s county planning committee followed its officers’ recommendation to refuse planning permission after hearing that residents were fed up with wind farms being built in the area.
A petition and more than 160 letters of objection were sent by people in the Wingate, Wheatley Hill and Trimdon area. There were more than 210 letters of support.
Wheatley Hill resident Cliff Wheatley told the committee: “There are 19 wind turbines round Wheatley Hill and I say that this is far too much and it is not necessary.”
Councillors heard the council’s spatial policy team opposed the proposals because they were considered to breach local planning policies and against national development guidance.
Tim Mogridge, for Infinis, said the firm wanted to maximise the 25-year scheme’s benefits for the community.
It would provide £63,000 a year for an Employability Fund and help with community centre power costs, giving a total benefit of £1.65m.
Suzanne Duncan, principal of East Durham College, said the fund would help people with costs such as fees and transport that Government did not fund.
Some councillors welcomed the proposed benefits and urged the committee to go against the officers but they were defeated.
The committee also rejected plans by EDF Energy Renewables for five wind turbines at Sheraton Hill and Hulam Farms, at Sheraton and Hutton Henry.
Several parish councils in the area objected to the plan.
Durham Tees Valley Airport initially objected because the turbines could affect its radar but the committee heard it was happy with the developer’s offer to pay towards a new radar system.
Senior Planning Officer Henry Jones said the plan would have “an unduly dominant and harmful visual impact upon the settlement of Hesleden.”
Officers were also concerned that a wildlife survey was not up to date and an accurate assessment of the scheme’s impact on wildlife could not be made.
Hartlepool Borough Council is also to consider the scheme as one of the turbines is in its area.
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