WIND farm bosses last night confirmed they would appeal against a council decision to refuse their plans for 10 turbines on the outskirts of Alnwick, and warned it could cost taxpayers up to £250,000 if they win.
Ridgewind Ltd, which wants to build the wind farm at Wandylaw, Chathill, was refused permission for the project last month by councillors, despite their own planning officers recommending approval.
Yesterday the firm said it would be filing its appeal within the next 10 days, claiming councillors formed their decision on misleading presentations from a vocal minority of protesters.
Director Nigel Goodhew said the appeal would cost his company and the council up to £125,000 each, and the council could be saddled with all the costs if planning inspectors rule in Ridgewind’s favour.
Objectors last night said the Northumberland landscape was worth more than the cost of fighting the plans, and repeated their concerns that Ridgewind’s estimates that the wind farm would fuel more than 16,000 homes a year with green energy were flawed.
The site is adjacent to a proposed 18-turbine development at Middlemoor.
It lies within the Berwick Council area, whose planners said the Wandylaw site “would not give rise to significant adverse impacts on the character of the wider or local landscape”.
But last month’s planning committee rejected the bid by a majority of 8-2, ruling that it would have a detrimental effect on the landscape of north Northumberland and expressing fears over the cumulative impact of the Wandylaw and Middlemoor bids.
They also agreed with fears expressed by the Ministry of Defence about the safety of low-flying aircraft – even though planning officials had said the turbines would not affect radar reception.
Yesterday Mr Goodhew said: “We have reviewed the decision with our solicitors, and we are confident that we will prevail on appeal. It is unfortunate that both we and the council must now go through a costly and lengthy legal exercise.
“During the appeal process, we will continue to work hard to counter misleading information about wind farms we have seen recently which only deflect reasoned discussion away from the genuine merits of the project.”
Last night Dominic Coupe, Northumberland chairman of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, who spoke at last month’s meeting, claimed the proposed wind farm would only generate half Ridgewind’s estimated output, adding: “Visitors come to Northumberland to enjoy its beauty, tranquility, wide open space, coastline and castles. They don’t come to see a wind farm.”
Berwick Council director of regeneration and development, Shona Alexander, said: “Both the supporters and the protesters were given the same amount of time (10 minutes) to raise issues about their different views. This is in line with our public speaking policy.
“The applicant was also given a further 10 minutes to make a presentation in favour of the wind farm, which meant that two-thirds of the public speaking time was used to support the application.
“The council has received notification that Ridgewind Ltd is to appeal the decision made by the planning committee.
“They will have to formally appeal to the Planning Inspector who will decide if there is a case to answer.”
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Iconic and mystical views would be affected – claim
MAGICAL, mystical and iconic views could be affected if a proposed wind farm in Northumberland is allowed to go ahead, a public inquiry heard yesterday.
On day four of the public inquiry into an application to build 18 wind turbines at South Charlton near Alnwick, anti-wind-farm campaigners again clashed with experts speaking on behalf of nPower.
Alnwick district councillor and farmer Robert Thorp questioned nPower witness, landscape consultant Jeffrey Stevenson, on the visual impact that turbines at Middlemoor would have from some of the North-East’s most popular and picturesque spots.
Mr Stevenson said: “These turbines will introduce an element of dynamism into the environment. There is some evidence from other turbine sites that they become popular and may even become tourist attractions themselves.”
Mr Thorp responded: “Will the people who come to Northumberland for the peaceful scenery really appreciate 18 moving things on the horizon?”
Speaking about the view from Dunstanburgh Castle, he said: “The view from there is 360 degrees. The view to the Cheviots is magical, mystical and iconic and there will be a clear view of the turbines from there.”
Mr Stevenson said that only 8% of the view from the moor would be affected.