Windfarm bid is set for appeal

THE fight to prevent a Northumberland windfarm is entering round two as a planning appeal is lodged.

Hundreds of residents in Fenrother were jubilant in January after Northumberland County Council rejected plans for five 126.5metre-high turbines to be sited in nearby farmland.

But now applicant Energiekontor UK has confirmed it is taking the matter to appeal.

The company is arguing that the planning authority was wrong to assume the scheme would affect a greenbelt extension and it says there is significant support for it.

Project Manager Sam Dewar said: “The Fenrother site is an important project that will bring major benefits and provide a significant contribution to the area. This includes delivering enough renewable energy to power more than 7,900 homes. This could be even more once site data has been fully digested and the true high wind speeds better understood.

“There is no doubt that the evidence and studies completed so far point to the fact that the Fenrother site is suitable and capable of accommodating a small-scale windfarm of just five turbines.”

The application attracted the most representations of any scheme ever submitted in the county, with 1,647 letters of objection and 784 in support.

It was rejected unanimously by councillors, backing officers’ recommendations that the project would have an unacceptable impact on landscape character, greenbelt extension, Northumberland National Park and residential amenity, while there was insufficient detail on noise, archaeology or the impact on Newcastle Airport and MOD radar.

There were also concerns about the cumulative effect of windfarms.

Objections were lodged by Longhorsley and Tritlington and West Chevington parish councils, the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the MOD, Morpeth Civic Society, Newcastle International Airport, the National Grid, Northumberland Badger Group and Northumberland National Park Authority.

Energiekontor says most of the site is appropriate for such development, the project meets planning policy and there should be no impact on the national park or residents.

There would also be a community fund of up to £45,000 a year for the Greater Morpeth Development Trust.

However, Dr James Lunn, of the Fight Fenrother and Longhorsley Windfarm Group, said: “People are not just disappointed, but horrified that this company still feels it knows better than everybody else.

“We just want to get our lives back, but now we are faced with spending tens of thousands of pounds more to try to fight this.

“We will continue to fight it and the planning inspector has a duty to listen to the local community.”

Ward councillor Glen Sanderson added: “I’m not surprised by the appeal because there is so much money potentially to be made by developers, but I’m hopeful that the views of local residents will be heard loud and clear through this process.

“The council will have to robustly defend its position and I will certainly speak up for the community, which I know is overwhelmingly against this proposal.

“This is just going to put people through a lot of stress and anxiety when many thought this particular battle had been won and common sense had won the day.”