Plans change but objections remain

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Revised plans for a windfarm on former mining land have failed to win over objectors.

Earlier this year, Peel Energy submitted a planning application to erect 13 turbines, up to 126.5metres tall, on land between Widdrington and Hadston, saying it was the first part of the multi-million Blue Sky Forest (BSF) tourism and leisure project for the area.

The company has now amended its proposal, to reduce the number of turbines to nine and incorporate habitat enhancement work for birds.

But despite the reduction, the scheme still faces objection.

Val Seddon, chairman of Widdrington Regeneration Partnership (WRP), which is leading on the leisure and tourism initiative but withdrew its support for the windfarm element earlier this year, said that there will already be too many windfarms in the area.

She said: “We have got the ones at Ellington, the Infinis ones will be 635metres from Widdrington Village and if Peel get permission Widdrington Village would be surrounded by wind turbines.

“That is a bad thing and reducing the number from 13 to nine isn’t going to make much difference in that respect.

“We also feel that the environmental issues haven’t changed – this isn’t going to be any better for local wildlife.”

Val also said that suggestions that the windfarm would assist the delivery of the BSF scheme by providing infrastructure were unfounded and could actually jeopardise parts of the plan.

She said: “When we got the original application it was obvious that the windfarm was not going to provide any infrastructure for BSF at all.

“The WRP has said that it does not support the Peel Energy application and does not view it as a genuine part of the BSF project.”

Coun Seddon said that work is continuing on BSF and planning applications could be submitted by the end of the year.

Peel has said the windfarm changes aim to accommodate the aviation requirements of Newcastle Airport, increase the distance between the turbines and residential areas, provide foraging habitat for wildlife and protect hen harrier roosting sites. It says it has amended the plans following consultation.

Project manager Annette Lardeur said: “The reduced number of turbines would still generate enough electricity to meet the average annual needs of over 10,500 homes, contributing to meet the nation’s shortfall in energy generation, and providing up to £1.35million of funding over the life of the scheme for communities to spend on local projects.”

The formal consultation period for the Peel Energy application is under way.