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‘Intolerable’ turbine plan recommended for refusal

A divisive plan to erect two wind turbines has been recommended for refusal.

County planning officers have criticised the plans for Punder Gill, near Scargill. They say the 46m turbines would have an unacceptable visual impact on the landscape and heritage sites.

There have been objections from the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Partnership, residents and parish councils.

County councillors will make a decision tomorrow (Tuesday, September 6).

In a report, county planners said the economic benefits of the development – namely contributing renewable electricity for the national grid and reducing carbon emissions – did not outweigh the visual harm. The report added that “insufficient submissions” on noise impact of the turbines had contributed to the recommendation for refusal. It concluded the site was “not within an area suitable for wind energy development”. The impact on residents was also judged to have not been properly addressed.

Other objections came from the county’s landscape officer who said the turbines would have an “overbearing impact” on its neighbours.

County design and conservation officers agreed the visual impact of the turbines would be “wholly negative”.

A statement from Rokeby, Brignall and Egglestone Abbey Parish Council dubbed the plan “bizarre” and branded it “intolerable” to its neighbours. Objections also came from Bowes Parish Council, which said the harmful visual impact of the turbines outweighed the “limited” renewable energy benefits.

Representatives from The Bowes Museum also had “considerable concerns” about the impact of the turbines on views from the grade I-listed building.

Although the proposal site near the A66 is outside of the AONB boundary, the North Pennines AONB Partnertship said turbines would “interrupt” views from within its area and would be a “dominant” feature. The plan for the two turbines, which would be twice the height of Durham Cathedral, was also criticised by campaigners at South Teesdale Action Group (STAG). STAG claimed the applican had a “a host of inaccuracies and discrepancies”, including incorrect distances to nearby properties, inaccurate figures for power output and the description of the plan as “small scale”.

The group added: “Noise impacts will be unacceptable to those living nearby and impacts would increase should the power output of the turbines increase. No economic benefits of the development exist.”

Durham Bird Club was worried about the lack of assessment of impact on protected birds – particularly curlews.

Brothers Mark and Andrew Thompson scaled back their plans for a wind farm near Scargill last year – reducing the number of turbines they wanted from five to two.