Planners urged to consider £200m Blue Sky Forest project in Widdrington wind farm decision

A LOOMING decision on plans for a wind farm in Northumberland must take into account a separate bid to build turbines on a nearby site, it is claimed.

Artists impression of how a wind farm could look at Widdrington, Northumberland

A LOOMING decision on plans for a wind farm in Northumberland must take into account a separate bid to build turbines on a nearby site, it is claimed.

Renewables company Infinis wants to build four turbines at the former Sisters opencast coal mine near the village of Widdrington.

And Peel Energy has now submitted an application to erect 13 turbines on land slightly further north of the village – as part of the £200m Blue Sky Forest tourism and leisure project.

County councillors are due to make a decision on the Infinis scheme this week, with planning officers recommending them to approve it.

Now Peel Energy has written to the council suggesting that the decision should be deferred, citing the issue of the potential cumulative impact of 17 turbines on the area.

It is feared that approval of the Infinis application could make it less likely that Peel Energy’s 13 turbines would get the green light – potentially jeopardising the future of the Blue Sky Forest project.

Yesterday the county council confirmed receipt of the Peel Energy request, and said the planning and environment committee will be made aware of it prior to its meeting tomorrow. The committee will have to decide whether to postpone a decision on the Infinis scheme or go ahead and determine the application.

The 13 turbines proposed by Peel Energy are seen as the first phase of the Blue Sky Forest project, and a catalyst for delivering the rest of the ambitious scheme – which includes a golf course and golf academy, an adventure centre, 300-bed hotel and conference centre, shops and restaurants.

Yesterday a company spokeswoman said: “We have submitted a letter to the county council and what we would like to ensure is that the committee makes any decision on the Sisters wind farm site based on all the information currently available, including the application for the Blue Sky Forest wind farm.”

Peel Energy’s proposed 39 megawatt wind farm would be the first infrastructure to be built on the site since the Blue Sky Forest project was first mooted by the Widdrington Regeneration Partnership (WRP) almost a decade ago.

The company says it will “lay the foundations” for the rest of the development by installing roads and electricity which could be used by other partners.

 
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