Keep your distance call to windfarm developers

HUNDREDS of residents have called for a minimum separation distance between windfarms and homes in Northumberland.

The issue was brought to the fore during consultation for Northumberland County Council’s Core Strategy, which attracted more than 12,500 responses.

Almost 2,000 of them related to renewable energy, while questions on windfarms exceeded every other area of consultation, attracting an average of four times as many responses as most other sections.

A total of 505 people responded to the question on whether there should be a minimum separation distance between commercial scale windfarms and residential properties.

And there was an overwhelming positive response, with just 14 respondents, including seven windfarm developers, saying they disagreed.

The figures have been analysed by the Northumberland and Newcastle Society, which has spoken against the blight of turbines in the county and commissioned three reports from a planning consultant, landscape consultant and sleep expert about their impact.

Member Andrew Joicey said: “It was interesting to see what subjects across the county people were interested in and concerned about. There is obviously one subject that is extremely concerning to a lot of people and that is large-scale renewable energy. There was a huge response.

“A minimum separation distance is one thing that would alleviate a lot of worries because of the fact that far too many windfarms are proposed just far too close to houses.

“In the early days of windfarm development, sites were picked out in the mountain area of Scotland where there are not many dwellings so it wasn’t particularly an issue, but as people jumped more and more on the bandwagon to invest in wind energy applications have got closer and closer to dwellings and to settlements.

“The main point about the impact of windfarms with large turbines is that the visual impact is far reaching, not just that the neighbours can see it, but sometimes it can be seen from the next county.

“It would be utterly unnecessary if Northumberland and its landscape was wrecked by windfarms for no good reason. People would look back in years to come and see this as the biggest disaster. I do think the penny is beginning to drop with a lot of people, hopefully the decision makers included.”

Organisations in favour of a minimum separation distance included the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Northern Farmers and Landowners Group, Community Action Northumberland and Morpeth and District Civic Society, while Longhorsley Parish Council said the siting of windfarms was the most emotive issue it has dealt with in the last three years.

A spokeswoman for Northumberland County Council said: “In response to the Issues and Options consultation there was widespread support from residents on the question of whether the Core Strategy should include separation distances between windfarms and properties.

“The council is still considering the responses to the consultation and is undertaking further work, which includes looking at the merits of identifying separation distances.

“Consultation on the next version of the Core Strategy will take place during February and March next year.”

l A DATE has now been set for a public meeting to discuss plans for five turbines at Fenrother.

Energiekontor UK has applied to install the 126.5m-high turbines on land near Longhorsley.

More than 1,400 letters of objection have been submitted, along with around 450 in support.

The meeting will include a presentation by council officers on the application, followed by a question and answer session.

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