Dismay as windfarm is approved

PLANS have been approved for a windfarm near Wingates.

The application for six 110m high turbines beside the village, near Longhorsley, was granted by Northumberland County Council’s Planning and Environment Committee on Tuesday.

Two councillors voted against the proposal, saying it was time to make a stand, but eight voted in favour.

Committee Chairman Trevor Thorne said Infinis, formerly Novera, had produced a good application, which had been examined since 2008, and while he had misgivings about its impact on the National Park just over a mile away and Wingates itself, he said it was alleviated by the developer putting the turbines to the west.

John Thompson, of Wingates Not Windfarms, said after the meeting he was very disappointed.

“Apart from the Chairman, there was very little reference to the people and the village,” he said.

Mr Thompson told the committee that objectors were local – 75 wrote letters and 141 signed a petition – but the 57 supporters were mostly from outside the area. All surrounding parish councils objected, as well as the National Park Authority.

He argued that contrary to planners’ advice, the county had already met its target for renewable energy generation, but that was denied by Head of Development Management Karen Ledger, who said only turbines already constructed could be counted and because of technical difficulties, some approved in the Knowesgate area might not go ahead.

Newcastle Airport withdrew its objection when Infinis agreed to fund radar blanking to prevent interference with the air traffic control system, but blanking must be used sparingly so though there are 33 turbine proposals near Wingates, the others may not go ahead.

Project Director Stephen Hannay said Infinis was first to select Wingates as a prospective site and had reduced its initial proposal for seven turbines up to 130m tall.

But Rothbury councillor Steven Bridgett said local people felt their way of life was threatened by the windfarm plan.

And Coun Wayne Daley said two huge turbines approved by the Secretary of State in his home town of Cramlington were eyesores and he was keen to see turbines built offshore, as at Blyth.

Public inquiries will be held for windfarms proposed at Park Head, near Netherwitton, on June 28 and at Kirkharle on July 26.