Sides prepare for windfarm hearing

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THE final round of a windfarm battle is set to begin next week.

Renewable energy company Energiekontor UK is appealing a decision to reject its bid for a five-turbine scheme in the hamlet of Fenrother, near Longhorsley.

The application was turned down unanimously by Northumberland County Council’s Planning and Environment Committee in January.

Members backed officers’ recommendations that the scheme should be refused on grounds of unacceptable impact on the landscape, greenbelt extension, Northumberland National Park and residential amenity, insufficient information on noise and archaeology, the impact on Newcastle Airport and Ministry of Defence radar, and the cumulative impact of turbines.

However, an independent Planning Inspector will now examine the application in a six-day public inquiry.

It will begin at Morpeth Town Hall on Wednesday morning and will include an evening session on Thursday, from 7pm, for members of the public to have their say.

During the hearing, the Fight Fenrother and Longhorsley Windfarm Group hopes to fly a blimp at the height of the proposed 126.5metre-high turbines to demonstrate the impact they could have on the wider area.

Chairman James Lunn said: “We feel better than ever about this application. We think the county council has put together an honest, considered case and there is only one obvious outcome – this appeal will be dismissed. We are very confident about that.

“We are looking forward to moving on with our lives without having to spend every hour we have fighting this proposed windfarm.”

However, Energiekontor Project Manager Sam Dewar is confident that the company has a strong case.

He said: “We have presented some additional residential amenity information, but that is very much for clarification purposes and the proposal is still as it was first submitted. We still think it is acceptable.

“We have removed some of the refusal reasons, such as the aviation reason, so we are very much down to impact on landscape, residential amenity and the impact on the proposed greenbelt.

“We just hope that common sense prevails over the two weeks.”