Faulty Northumberland wind turbines could be taken down

FAULTY wind turbines in a Northumberland beauty spot could be taken down after they stopped working.

wind turbine, kirkheaton wind farm

FAULTY wind turbines in a Northumberland beauty spot could be taken down after they stopped working.

The three giant structures at Kirkheaton, North of Hexham, were put up almost 10 years ago by EDF Energy.

But technical issues have meant that two of the turbines have had to have their blades removed, and haven’t been operational since last autumn.

Planning conditions state that any individual turbine not working for more than six months should be removed and that part of the site restored.

Northumberland County Council is investigating the situation, but now campaigners in the area are calling for the area to be put back to how it was originally.

Charles Harrison lives close to the site and said the broken turbines were a further example of “nonsense” wind farms.

He said: “They don’t work – they produce about 27% of what people claim. They are a nonsense. We are going to end up having power cuts because these things are so unreliable.”

A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: “This situation has only recently been brought to our attention.

“There is a condition on the planning permission which requires individual turbines to be dismantled and removed if they are not in operation for a period in excess of six months, and that part of the site restored, unless otherwise agreed in writing by the council as local planning authority. We will contact the operator to discuss the matter in more detail before deciding on an appropriate course of action.”

The site is close to an area that is the subject of a triple inquiry for three separate wind farms, which was wound up yesterday.

A spokesman for EDF Energy said that since being commissioned in 2000 until the end of 2007, the wind farm at Kirkheaton generated a total of 36,508 MWh – enough to supply the annual needs of over 860 homes.

He added: “Following an inspection carried out by its turbine supplier, some technical issues were uncovered with some of the blades on two of the turbines. As a precaution it was decided to remove the blades from the turbines.

“EDF Energy is continuing to work with the turbine manufacturer to determine the best technical and economic solutions to replace the blades and to return the wind farm to full operation.”

Page 2 - Public inquiry draws to a close >>

Public inquiry draws to a close

NORTHUMBERLAND’S progress in meeting renewable targets means there is no need to approve three "inappropriate" wind farm proposals, the closing session of a public inquiry heard yesterday.

Peter Worlock, chairman of Save our Unspoilt Landscape (SOUL), made the claim as the inquiry into three proposals for a combined 20 turbines near Berwick came to an end.

Both supporters and opponents of wind power at the hearing agreed that Northumberland has little chance of meeting its 2010 target for renewable energy generation.

But Mr Worlock felt the number of applications approved in the county recently meant it will have a better chance of meeting its 2020 target.

He told the hearing that, in the last 18 months, wind farms with a combined capacity of 159 megawatts have been approved in the last 18 months, five times the county’s installed capacity to date.

He reminded planning inspector Ruth McKenzie that a decision is awaited on another three proposals in Tynedale, with a combined 140 megawatts.

Mr Worlock said the wind industry has "a very strong pipeline" in Northumberland.

This, he argued, should mean there is no need to approve the three Berwick schemes just to meet targets. Speaking at Berwick’s Maltings theatre, he said: "There is no imperative to grant permission on inappropriate sites."

Mr Worlock’s group is opposing Catamount Energy’s bid for six turbines at Barmoor.

The two other schemes being heard at the inquiry are Your Energy’s proposal for seven engines at Moorsyde and npower renewable’s scheme for seven at Toft Hill.

Elizabeth Dunn, for Your Energy, hit back at Mr Worlock’s claims, urging Mrs McKenzie to take a similar view to the inspector who approved a scheme at nearby Wandylaw. That inspector said there was no prospect of Northumberland meeting its 2010 target and that this increased the need for Wandylaw. Mrs Dunn said: "Northumberland is still a long way from meeting its targets and they are not caps or ceilings." Paul Tucker, for Northumberland County Council, told the session it would be better if the authority carried out an appraisal of the county and identified the best sites for wind farms.

"Whatever those best sites are, they are not at Toft Hill, at Moorsyde or at Barmoor."

Mrs McKenzie told the inquiry that she would prepare a report on each of the three schemes to the secretary of state for communities and local government by the end of September or beginning of October.

The secretary of state will then consider the reports before making the final decision, probably in the new year.

The inquiry came about after the three companies were refused planning permission by the now-defunct Berwick Borough Council last March, and appealed.

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