Councillors unite to back study into tourism threat

Middlemoor wind farm, just north of Alnwick.
Middlemoor wind farm, just north of Alnwick.

The county council has agreed to investigate the effect of windfarms on tourism after a motion raised by a north Northumberland councillor was accepted last week.

Coun Glen Sanderson, ward member for Longhorsley, raised the issue at last week’s full council meeting.

His motion was ‘that the county council urgently undertakes a wide-ranging study which considers the effect of existing and planned onshore windfarms on our tourism industry. This is crucial in order to determine the impact such large-scale development may have on our local businesses and visitor perception’.

Ahead of the meeting last Wednesday, leader of the council, Grant Davey, said: “‘While we obviously agree with the sentiments of Coun Sanderson’s motion, we’ve got to make sure that planning decisions are watertight and we don’t leave opportunities for decisions to be appealed.

“We’ll be seeking legal advice to make sure that this motion doesn’t have an adverse impact on the authority, because I’m sure Coun Sanderson will back any improvement to the motion which will safeguard the interests of the council on behalf of residents of the county.”

The motion was passed almost unanimously following the amendment, which stipulated that the study had to be undertaken within set parameters, which do not affect the planning or local development framework process, and must be within budget.

After the meeting, Coun Sanderson said: “I was very pleased and highly delighted that the council felt this was something worth pursuing.

“I wasn’t too unhappy to accept the amendment, because for the first time on wind turbines, we have a line that the whole council agrees on.”

He explained that it was important, especially given that there are more and more turbines in the county, that some detailed research on how onshore windfarms affects the tourist industry, which supports 13,000 jobs and brings in £600million a year.