Northumberland windfarm motion dismissed

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A MOTION to slow down the number of windfarm applications in Northumberland was dismissed last night.

Conservative councillor Glen Sanderson put forward a call to the county’s unitary council asking for it to ‘urgently’ engage in consultation with as many residents as possible to help formulate a new county-wide policy on renewable energy.

But the call, at a full meeting of Northumberland County Council was rejected by most Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors by 33 votes to 16.

Coun Sanderson said that the number of windfarm application which have already been approved or are going through planning procedures are enough to meet the county’s renewables target for 2020.

He added that many felt the county would be justified in calling for a moratorium on approvals, but knew this was not legally possible.

However an alternative motion, put forward by Coun Tom Brechany, which said that the administration would consult the public on the renewable energy policy as part of its official work in the Local Development Framework (LDF), was approved.

Coun Andrew Tebbutt, executive member for corporate resources, said: “Anything other than going through the LDF process will not be sustainable. We have to deliver the right thing in the end.”

But Coun Sanderson added that the LDF process had been ongoing for a number of years.

“This is so urgent and important and it should be treated on its own with a specific consultation,” he said.

Supporting Coun Sanderson’s motion, Coun Bridgett said: “It is not until you have a windfarm application in your community that you start to look at all the facts about windfarms.

“There have been six applications in my division and it is very difficult when communities feel that they are not listened to. We might not be able to have a moratorium but we can look at other policies which might be able to help them.”

He added that it shouldn’t be a political decision. “We should have cross-party unity on this,” he said.

But he was in the minority.

Coun Tebbutt added that if consultation was not made through the LDF process the council could be liable to numerous judicial reviews which would cost the council, and ultimately taxpayers.

Leader of the Coun Jeff Reid added that windfarm companies approach landowners for land and it is landowners that need to be spoken to about not selling up.