Councillor upset at ‘small’ repairs sum

A COUNTY councillor is calling for the authority to get its act together after being ‘flabbergasted’ by the sum it agreed with a windfarm company for some road repairs.

Residents in and around Longhorsley, particularly those living along the Bywell and West Moor routes, have complained that heavy vehicles transporting turbine equipment to a site in Wingates have caused a great deal of damage to rural roads.

Their concerns were shared by Coun Glen Sanderson, who said earlier this year that he feared the cost of putting things right would exceed £200,000.

Infinis received planning permission for six, 110-metre-high turbines at Wingates in April 2011 and following the nine-month construction phase, the site became operational in the spring of this year.

After making enquiries and being surprised at what he was told, Coun Sanderson asked the following at a full county council meeting: “What figure has been agreed with the developers of the Wingates windfarm as their contribution to the cost of repairing the damage to local roads caused during the construction of the site?”

The answer he received was £14,190.

After the meeting, he said: “A number of constituents raised this issue so I asked officers for the figure.

“I was so flabbergasted that the amount was so low despite the fact that 6,556 HGVs used the approach roads during the nine-month development stage, compared to the normal few hundred, that I decided to highlight it at a full council meeting.

“Residents share my huge surprise that there wasn’t a more effective formula in place to measure how much damage had been caused by the developer. The information used was patchy at best in my view.

“The county council should urgently tighten up the workings between planning and highways to ensure that developers of major projects must not be let off like this in the future.

“It needs to look at the procedures at other councils where they are absolutely clear in setting out to developers what their obligations are if their vehicles have damaged local roads.”

No-one at Infinis was available for comment.