Bosses at Northumberland national park are calling for better joint working with neighbouring authorities on wind farm bids.
Officials at Northumberland National Park Authority have written to Northumberland County Council and Scottish Borders Council calling for “enhanced collaboration” on dealing with turbine proposals close to its boundaries.
Authority members will next week be asked to endorse a number of actions to bring about improved joined up working including spending £20,000 on strengthening its evidence on the potential impact of large scale wind energy developments on the park.
A report to the full meeting of the authority at its Hexham base on Wednesday sets out how officers have in recent months been aware of an “increasing number” of large scale wind energy developments being submitted to both the two neighbouring authorities.
Officials say they are conscious there will likely be further applications in the pipeline, and refer to the “potential” application for a “nationally significant” wind farm of up to 100 turbines on land in the Comb and Redesdale Forest area, adjacent to the park’s western boundary in the North Tyne and Redesdale area.
The report sets out how authority members have taken part in workshops in which they considered the body’s current policy position and working approach to wind applications both within and without the national park.
It tells how members “have some concerns as to whether our own development plan policies are sufficient to protect the national park itself from potentially harmful wind energy development proposals.”
However, it was said to be “generally accepted” that national and local policy and guidance is “continuing to do its job.” It reads: “We have approved a significant number of small scale individual turbines, but have generally been successful in discouraging applications for wind energy developments on a scale that would be likely to have an unacceptable negative impact on the national park.”
The report tells how the conclusion of the workshops was that “the greatest threat to the special qualities of the National Park, and to National Park purposes,” will come from major applications outside the authority’s boundaries.
A number of proposed actions are put before members.
The authority’s head of planning and communities will write to the two councils’ planning bosses outlining its concerns and confirming its commitment to improved collaborative working across development management and development planning activities.
Officers are calling for the authority to be told when proposals to which it is objecting are to go before committees, and requesting greater interaction and information sharing between authorities.
They are also asking to be involved with applications earlier, and for greater joint working on evidence, policy, guidance and process “wherever this could result in more effective and efficient cross-boundary cooperation.”
The meeting will be told that the authority is to make up to £20,000 available in 2014/15 to “strengthen our evidence base on the potential impact of large scale wind energy” developments on the park.