Proposals for three wind turbines in Hartlepool which would be the tallest in England and Wales are up in the air after opponents asked the Government to step in.
Progress on the towering structures, which would be taller than Blackpool Tower, has been halted after members of the public asked the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to intervene.
It is considering whether to call in the plans – approved by Hartlepool Borough Council in February – which could lead to planning permission being decided again.
Some council officers have also questioned the viability of the turbines after the Government announced in June it was to end subsidies to onshore wind farms from next April.
A spokesman for the Seaton Carew Wind Turbine Action Association said: “Our hope is that the planning permission will be quashed because there are number of residents at Seaton Carew who were not consulted during the consultation phase, even people directly impacted by the wind turbines.
“When people became aware of the planning applications they had not realised the size of them.
“I would say 98% of residents I have spoken to are not in favour of them.”
The spokesman said up to 30 to 40 people had contacted the Department for Communities and Local Government asking it to intervene.
Hartlepool council expects to receive £157,000 a year in rent from the proposed turbine at Brenda Road West Industrial Estate, which is on the local authority’s land.
It and two other 574ft-tall turbines at Graythorp Industrial Estate and Tofts Road West are being developed by Hartlepool renewable energy company Seneca Global Energy.
Originally meant be 655ft (200 metres) high, they were reduced to 574ft (175m).
A DCLG spokesman said: “We are currently considering this case, having received requests to intervene. A decision will be issued in due course.”
The three turbines were approved by the council’s planning committee which voted in favour of them by seven votes to three in February. They attracted a big response from both supporters and objectors.
Seneca Global Energy was not available for comment on the latest development.
But on its website it said the scheme would deliver about a third of the town’s electricity requirements.
It also stated: “The scheme will provide a number of direct and indirect financial benefits to the local community.
“As part of the development we will establish a Community Benefit Fund into which a part of the overall revenue will be paid and which will be used to support a range of local initiatives.
“Based on our proposals, over the lifetime of the project the amount paid into the Community Benefit Fund will be approximately £4,500,000.
“Indirectly, were neighbouring industrial sites to take up the offer of a private power supply from the scheme, the lower power costs may help to retain employment in the local community.”
At a meeting of the council’s Regeneration Committee over the summer assistant director Regeneration Damien Wilson confirmed there had been a change in Government policy that had resulted in some wind turbine projects being unviable.
But the Department for Energy and Climate Change has reportedly said there would be a period of grace for projects that already had planning permission.
A council spokesman said: “We are aware that the three wind turbine applications – which were approved in principle by the council’s Planning Committee earlier this year – have since been referred to the National Planning Casework Unit for consideration.”
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