Windfarm schemes thrown out

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Turbine protesters in Northumberland may feel that the tide has started to turn after two windfarms were thrown out by councillors tonight.

At this evening’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s planning and environment committee, the nine-turbine Belford Burn scheme and the five-turbine Rayburn Lake windfarm near Netherwitton were both recommended for refusal.

Energiekontor UK Ltd’s proposals for nine 100-metre turbines on land to the west of Belford had sparked 500 objections.

And four speakers reinforced the reasons for opposing the scheme as Chris Craddock, chairman of the Middleton Burn Action Group; Barbara Hooper, from the National Trust; Brenda Stanton, chairman of Belford Parish Council; and ward councillor John Woodman all spoke against the proposal.

Michael Briggs, from Energiekontor, tried to highlight some of the benefits of the development, including the fact that the windfarm would produce 90 gigawatt hours of electricity per year, equivalent to 15 per cent of Northumberland’s annual domestic energy consumption, but he failed to convince the committee to go against the planning officer’s advice.

Referring to the fact that this application was recommended for refusal when many others had been backed by the planning department, Coun Bernard Pidcock said he was ‘happily mystified’.

Meanwhile, RES UK and Ireland Ltd’s bid for five 127-metre-high turbines between Wingates and Netherwitton had been almost as unpopular, sparking 159 objections from residents and three from parish councils.

The planning officer pointed out that the turbines at the nearby Wingates windfarm are 110-metres-tall, while even the Cramlington turbines are three metres shorter at 124-metres-to-blade-tip.

An agent for the applicant attempted to point out the weaknesses in some of the proposed reasons for refusal, but again the committee was happy to follow officer advice and refuse the application.

For more, see Thursday’s Northumberland Gazette.