Minister to make turbine decision

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WINDFARM objectors in Fenrother are hopeful plans will be knocked back after they were called-in by a Government Minister.

Energiekontor UK is appealing for permission to erect five 126.5metre-high turbines in the hamlet after its original bid was rejected by Northumberland County Council in January.

A public inquiry took place in September and Planning Inspector Phillip Ware was expected to announce a decision by the end of this month.

But now Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has ‘recovered’ the appeal to make the decision himself. It will mean the inspector will simply make a recommendation to him.

The move could delay the result until the New Year, but turbine opponents are delighted at the intervention.

Dr James Lunn, of the Fight Fenrother and Longhorsley Windfarm Group, said: “We met Mr Pickles earlier this year and were pleased to see somebody who is interested in communities. He seems to be a person who is keen to let communities be heard. The fact that he is taking this decision onto his broad shoulders is heartening.

“This is a man who is standing up for communities and Green Belt and now he is going to make a decision on an application for a windfarm in a Green Belt that is opposed by almost 2,000 people.

“It probably puts the decision back to January or February, but we have lost two-and-a-half years of our lives fighting this application so another four months isn’t going to make much difference.”

Energiekontor Project Manager Sam Dewar said the site is not in the Green Belt.

He added: “We were expecting a decision in 10 days’ time so it has been recalled quite late in the day. It is disappointing, but we are still confident. The inspector has dealt with over 500 appeals over the last 20 years so his recommendation will not be taken lightly.

“Eric Pickles is trying to set principles and precedent for good development and we feel this falls into that category.”