Controversial wood-chipping business gets approval despite objections over noise and traffic

A wood-chipping business on a north Northumberland farm has been given the nod, despite one councillor warning it will become ‘an ongoing saga’.

By Ben O'Connell
Friday, 21 June, 2019, 15:25
Rock Midstead Farm, north of Alnwick. Picture by Ben OConnell

Wood-chip production to fuel biomass plants started at Rock Midstead Farm, about five miles north of Alnwick, in March 2017.

An application seeking retrospective consent to carry out chipping at the site plus permission for a new farm building, tracks and a stackyard was approved by five votes to three at a meeting of the North Northumberland Local Area Council on June 20.

The main concerns raised by nearby residents as well as as well as both Eglingham and Rennington Parish Councils related to noise and the impact on the roads of increased traffic.

However, councillors were told that the road leading to the site from the A1, the B6347, is on the agreed and unrestricted route for timber haulage, meaning it would be unreasonable to object on the basis of additional HGVs.

The council’s public protection officer, Gary Park, admitted that noise levels at nearby properties is not acceptable at the moment, but the new building, with a five-inch concrete wall at the back, will help surround the chipper and attenuate the noise.

On this basis, Coun Gordon Castle moved approval, saying that the committee had to accept advice from experts.

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But Coun Georgina Hill said: “I have no confidence that the noise mitigation or road issues have been dealt with.

“I would bet quite a lot of money that there will be complaints from residents and this will become an ongoing saga.”

The meeting had earlier heard from Ann Byrne, who lives at nearby Rock Moor Farm New Houses and said that ‘life became very miserable for me and my daughter’ from the point the chipping started in 2017.

But Andrew Moss, for the applicant, said it was a rural diversification project which created employment and supports the shift to a low-carbon economy.

There will be a condition preventing more than 55 lorries a day going in and out of the site, with none at all allowed at the weekend, while chipping will only be permitted between 8am and 5pm Monday to Friday, from 8am to 12pm on Saturday and not at all on Sundays or bank holidays.