Neighbours of what is set to be the country’s biggest windfarm have won a dramatic victory against more turbines being put on their doorstep.
Villagers on Tuesday night persuaded county councillors to take the unusual step of blocking a wind-speed mast at Eglingham, intended as a precursor to turbines.
The decision, by nine votes to three, was taken at the county council’s planning and environment committee, despite strong advice from officers and chairman Coun Trevor Thorne that the mast should be approved.
It comes amid growing unease among councillors at the number of turbine applications springing up around Northumberland, reflected in their willingness to defy officers’ advice.
Rural members John Taylor and Dougie Watkin led the attack on the application, by Edinburgh company PNE Wind UK, on the grounds of protecting the landscape and the safety of troop-carrying aircraft on the way to Otterburn ranges.
The site between East and West Ditchburn is in the ward of Coun Taylor, who moved refusal. He said it was not far from a cluster of 28 turbines currently being developed at Middlemoor and Wandylaw.
“It’s going to be the biggest turbine farm in England and Wales at the present time and the people in that part of the world – and I’m one of them – have had enough,” he said.
And he warned: “We will not accept any more and we will accept no application that comes forward in this area.”
The RAF also said it wanted the mast marked with a red light. Coun Watkin, of Norham, said: “We live in the air-crash capital of western Europe.
“Very few councillors in this chamber have not had air crashes within their wards.
“If the RAF are saying that this met mast is that dangerous, that for the first time ever they are requesting a red light on it, it shouldn’t be there.”
The officers’ report described the site as relatively unobtrusive and noted the mast would be temporary.
But Coun Taylor said: “I’m searching for polite words, but in fact I’m failing – it’s nonsense, it’s rubbish.”
Chairman Trevor Thorne said the issue was the mast, not turbines.
Technical manager Alistair Hamilton said the company had developed 98 windfarms globally and this was its first project in Northumberland. If the data proved favourable, the company would submit a windfarm application in 2013.