Site visit may be key factor

Planning inspector Phillip Ware listens to evidence during the appeal hearing.
Planning inspector Phillip Ware listens to evidence during the appeal hearing.

RESIDENTS fighting plans for a windfarm in a rural community are hoping that a site visit will help to ensure that they are refused.

After the evidence and debate section of the appeal by Energiekontor UK against Northumberland County Council’s decision to turn down its bid for five 126.5metre-high turbines near Fenrother was concluded, planning inspector Phillip Ware went along to the area in question yesterday.

He saw for himself how the windfarm would sit in relation to people living in Fenrother and Fieldhead and after considering what he has seen and heard, he will decide whether or not to overturn the reasons for refusal.

Dr James Lunn, of the Fight Fenrother and Longhorsley Windfarm Group, said: “I think we’re very positive about how things have gone and we clearly set out our position on the issues to the inspector.

“Hopefully, after seeing how close a number of properties would be to these huge turbines, he will agree with us that scheme doesn’t sit comfortably with its surroundings and would be a pervasive, dominant and overbearing feature on the landscape, which is not acceptable in the public interest.

“He will have also noticed that Energiekontor has not responded to the concerns of residents throughout the process.

“This application has united many people from across the county, who are all saying enough is enough.

“We have learned from them and hopefully they have learned from us and regardless of what happens, we’re stronger as a county.”

Among the key issues that the inspector will be considering are the scale of the cumulative effect on the local and wider landscape and the effect on the openness and visual amenity of the proposed greenbelt extension.

Others include the effect on the visual amenity of the residents of nearby properties, noise and renewable energy policy and implications.

Both Longhorsley Parish Council and Tritlington and West Chevington Parish Council are strongly opposed to the scheme and Coun Paul Kelly, chairman of the county council’s planning and environment committee, spoke during the appeal to explain why he voted against the proposal.

He said: “I’ve been open-minded about windfarms over the years, but I believe we’re now at optimum capacity for them.

“The main reasons why I was not in favour were the cumulative effect, as there are already a number of turbines stretching from Wingates to Lynemouth on the coast, and the harmful visual impact they would have on nearby residents.”

County councillor for Pegswood, Alan Sambrook, added: “If this gets the go-ahead, it will make the effect on the landscape worse than people realise, because the council has received more applications from windfarm companies and so the area could become even more saturated with them.”