Turbines get the go-ahead

THREE proposals for single wind turbines on farmland in north Northumberland were given the green light last week.

Planners’ recommendations to approve schemes at Ford, Haggerston and Cornhill were backed by members of the county council’s north area planning committee, although not all were in agreement with some aspects of the applications.

The plans at Ford, which will see a 47.1-metre turbine at Brackenside Farm, was deferred from January’s meeting because of a ‘significant’ number of objections which had not been included in agenda papers.

They focused on the proximity of the scheme to an already proposed six-turbine windfarm at Barmoor, and the cumulative impact it will have on the area as well as its height and effect on the area.

Speaking in objection, Dr John Ferguson told the committee that a ruling had been made that there were to be no turbines at the Barmoor Ridge on Brackenside land after three which were previously included in the bigger scheme were refused.

“What was the point in four years’ work that we did for that if they reinstate a turbine to the very area from which they were removed,” he said. “The three turbines were removed from the application at the request of the local authority.”

He added that the applicant, George Barber, also had plans for more turbines on the land.

But Mr Barber disputed this and added: “I feel that this application will have a positive impact and will show what is possible. It is still one of the most beautiful areas in the county and it has been upheld that this turbine will not obstruct the landscape. If I believed it was going to have a negative effect I wouldn’t be doing it.”

Coun Dougie Watkin said he would be happier if the turbine was closer to farm buildings.

Coun Anthony Murray added: “The height of the turbine and its location are in an acceptable part of the area. I don’t think it is going to be greatly harmful to the ambience of the area.”

The Haggerston scheme, for a 34.2metre-to-blade-tip turbine at New Haggerston Farm House, received only two objections.

It was given unanimous approval by the committee.

And the 71-metre turbine at Wark Common Farm, raised 35 objections.

Speaking at the meeting, Joan Thomas said that the turbine would be four times higher than the Angel of the North on an already high point in the land.

“It will be visible from many villages and places such as Flodden Field, a designated open air museum, and Wark Castle, one of the most important sites in England. It seems that all sense of planning balance has disappeared,” she said.

“It is quite simply out of scale, out of place and out of character in this pretty landscape setting.”

Applicant Peter Straker-Smith said he had come to the proposal with considerable scepticism and great care.

Coun Watkin also had concerns about the plans stating that a condition of approval was to have a red light on top of the turbine meaning it would be seen from miles around at night time.

Coun Murray said that raptors lived in the area and could be affected by the turbine.

But a majority of councillors approved the plans.