Masts which could pave the way for a massive wind farm of up to 100 giant turbines in Northumberland’s Kielder Forest look set to be given the green light.
The Journal reported in August how RWE npower renewables had been appointed by the Forestry Commission, which manages the forest, to explore the potential for a wind farm there.
The investigations could lead to proposals for one of the UK’s biggest wind farms of between 50 and 100 turbines, including machines up to 170 metres tall, it was claimed.
Now, the company’s proposals to site four masts in the area look set to be approved, despite objections from Northumberland National Park Authority, two parish councils and 84 residents.
The test masts seek to assess wind conditions in the commercial Redesdale and Comb areas of Kielder.
Applications were submitted to Northumberland County Council for permission to site the 90m-high meteorological masts for up to three years, in an arc running from the Catcleugh Reservoir to Comb.
However, the park authority’s planning department has objected to two of the proposed masts, claiming they would have a “significant detrimental visual impact upon views looking into an area of the national park.”
Rochester with Byrness parish council has objected to all four having sent out a questionnaire to residents which showed 84 people had objections to the masts, 53 people did not and 14 were undecided.
Those who did have objections were mainly based on the likelihood of a wind farm being developed.
Clerk Sue Moorhouse last night said: “The parish council wanted to represent the community, the whole of a community so we gave everybody on the electoral roll a questionnaire.”
Tarset and Greystead parish council objected to three of the proposals citing “a visual impact and extra light in a unique dark skies reserve.”
Yet county council officers are recommending all four masts be approved by the planning and environment committee, at its meeting on Tuesday.
In August, Thomas Chappell, RWE’s renewables developer, said: “The data collected from the meteorological masts will be used to inform the design and scale of any potential wind farm.”
The commission’s North East forest management director Graham Gill added: “We are always keen to explore new ways of generating income through all areas of the forest, and look forward to seeing detailed plans for the site once RWE npower renewables has collected the relevant data.”
Five years ago, the Regional Spatial Strategy – which set the North East a target of producing 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 – highlighted wind development at Kielder Forest as a key component.