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Land earmarked for wind turbines despite previous plan being rejected

Council proposals to earmark land in Hartlepool for up to four wind turbines will come under scrutiny as part of the Local Plan process.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s major planning blueprint to guide all sorts of development over the next 15 years will go before a government-appointed inspector on Tuesday, September 26.

Inspector David Spencer has been appointed by the Planning Inspectorate to conduct an examination into the Local Plan to determine if it is sound.

The process at Hartlepool College of Further Education is due to take around three weeks.

The plan covers everything from new housing and commercial development to infrastructure and tourism.

Regarding wind turbines, it says the Brenda Road area could accommodate up to four wind turbines at a maximum of 325ft.

It adds developers have already shown an interest in the area.

An earlier draft of the Local Plan proposed six turbines in Brenda Road.

The issue is due to be looked at by the inspector on October 10 in the afternoon.

Submissions have been made in writing on the prospect by the Seaton Carew Wind Turbine Action Association.

On wind turbines, the proposed Local Plan states: “Wind energy remains one of the biggest contributors to the supply of electricity from renewable sources and will make a significant contribution towards the country’s 2020 renewable energy generation targets.

“Hartlepool has already proved to be a viable location for strategic wind turbine developments, with a scheme in operation at High Volts in the north of the borough and a further scheme approved but not yet constructed at Red Gap Moor near Wynyard.

“The Wind Farm Landscape Capacity Study concluded that the area between Billingham and Hartlepool had potential to accommodate a ‘small-medium’ wind farm related to the industrial development of south east Hartlepool.

“To reduce impact the maximum number of turbines should be restricted to four and only small/medium scale turbines should be permitted, with a maximum tip height of 99 metres.”

Plans for three 574ft-high onshore turbines at Graythorp Industrial Estate, Brenda Road West Industrial Estate and Tofts Road West, were passed by Hartlepool council in 2014.

But after being called in by the Secretary of State, they were rejected last year on the basis that the applicant Seneca Global Energy failed to consult sufficiently with the public consultation.

Theresa Arnold, secretary of Seaton Carew Wind Turbine Action Association (SCWTAA), said residents could face years of “continuous wathcfulness” over developers trying to erect turbines in the town.

The organisation was formed In 2015 to stop the three large turbines being erected in the Brenda Road area.

She said: “We were successful as the planning applications were called in and deemed invalid due to poor consultation. Since then we have learned a lot more about wind turbines and the experiences of people living near them. These include particularly flicker as sunlight is interrupted by the rotor blades and all forms of noise. Our concern is that the proposed turbine sites are so close to residential property and the majority of people living in Seaton Carew are against this.

“I recently experienced what it would be like living near turbines when I visited a house in Stockton. I could feel pressure building up in my ears. It was like being in a plane as it lands. I was there about an hour and a half and it became increasingly uncomfortable. I wouldn’t like to feel that for hours on end with no release.

“Another issue is that Seaton Carew includes a Conservation Area for locals and visitors to enjoy. There is a nature reserve off the Tees Road and Seals come and bask inland at low tide. Swans and geese fly from Seaton over to Salthome and there are places along the Tees Road where bats collect. Flicker and noise would probably affect them as well.

“From Seaton Front looking towards Brenda Road the land is flat so any turbines would be quite dominant on the skyline and the rotors would be visible above the rooftops.

“The Government website states local plans can be for 10, 15 or 20 years. If the Town Plan goes ahead unchanged residents will have years of continuous watchfulness in case a Developer applies to erect turbines. If Brenda Road land is indicated as suitable for turbines on this Plan it could be a continuous concern for our future lifetimes. Who knows what damage will be done to the community if they were ever built?”

“These Hearings with the Government Inspector are an important stage in the Town Plan Consultation. The southern end of Seaton Carew, The Dunes, Inglefield and Golden Meadows housing estates, along Stockton Road and towards Owton Manor and The Fens, Greatham and Graythorp all surround the Brenda Road site. Also quite a number of people work in the area and could be affected if turbines are erected near their workplaces.

“The section of the Hearings dealing with Wind Turbines and Brenda Road starts at 2 pm on 10th October at Hartlepool College of Further Education.”