Wind of change?

Middlemoor windfarm, just north of Alnwick.
Middlemoor windfarm, just north of Alnwick.
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Turbine protesters in north Northumberland may feel that the tide has started to turn as two windfarm schemes were thrown out this week.

A total of 14 turbines – nine near Belford and five between Wingates and Netherwitton – were rejected by councillors on Tuesday, but unlike similar proposals in the past, Northumberland County Council’s planning department had recommended refusal too.

At the planning meeting, Coun Bernard Pidcock made reference to the fact that the Belford Burn application was recommended for refusal when many others had been backed by the planning department, and said he was ‘happily mystified’.

Karen Ledger, the council’s head of development services, said it reflected the difficult balancing act with which the planners have to contend.

However, with appeals probably imminent on one or both schemes, the feeling that the voices of the people have been heard may not last long.

In the county as a whole, there are currently 92 operational or under-construction turbines, of which 76 were approved on appeal.

The six-turbine windfarm at Wingates, just to the north of this week’s refused scheme, was given the green light by the county council in 2011.

But further north in the county, the 10 turbines at Wandylaw, the 18 at Middlemoor and the six at Barmoor were all given the go-ahead by a planning inspector following developers’ appeals.

As previously reported, a single turbine near the Duddo Stones, the most significant Neolithic site in the county, has gone back to appeal and is facing objections from the Northumberland and Newcastle Society, just the latest stage in its campaigning.

A cross-party group of Northumberland Peers has now come together to voice their common concerns and Baroness Quin will introduce a debate on the extent of wind development in Northumberland in the House of Lords next Wednesday.