PROPOSED wind developments close to Northumberland’s National Park have been thrown out by councillors, amid concern over their visual impact.
Northumberland County Council has rejected planning applications for a wind monitoring mast at Sharperton and a single turbine at Wingates, both near Rothbury.
The authority’s planning and environment committee approved a proposed engine near Hexham, while an application for a turbine at Wooler – also close to Northumberland National Park, was withdrawn.
The application for the 50-metre mast at Charity Hall, in the Upper Coquet Valley, an area of high landscape value (AHLV) and approximately 3km from the eastern boundary of the national park, sought to have it in place for 12 months to assess the site’s suitability for a wind farm.
Northumberland National Park Authority objected, as did Hepple, Netherton and Harbottle parish councils and six residents.
Objectors claimed a wind farm on the site could have devastating effects on the tranquil rural valley and the national park, with claims its peaceful nature is what attracts tourists.
Concerns were also raised about a potential risk to low-flying aircraft and visual intrusion in the AHLV.
A council planning officer had recommended the application be approved but members voted against it. Chairman Trevor Thorne said afterwards: “The committee felt that the visual impact of a 50-metre mast was too great.”
The application for a 10kwm micro turbine on a 30m lattice mast on land north of East Wingates Farm is 4km from the park boundary, close to where Infinis is in the process of constructing six turbines and near public rights of way and designated sites.
Nunnykirk Parish Council objected as did 14 residents, with concerns over proximity to Wingates village and residential properties, and landscape and visual impact. There were also concerns over scale of the development, cumulative impact and impact on ecology – specifically bats.
A planning officer recommended approval yet members voted against the scheme.
Coun Thorne added: “The committee felt that the visual impact for the turbines for East Farm was too great. For a microturbine they felt it was too big.”
Meanwhile, the committee considered an application for an 18-metre domestic turbine at Steel, near Hexham, in green belt 110 metres from the North Penines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Hexhamshire and District Parish Council and four residents had objected on the grounds of visual impact and proximity to a road.
A planning officer recommended approval and members voted accordingly.
The committee was also presented with an application for an 11kw turbine on an 18m tower at Burnhouse Road in Wooler, 0.8km from the national park boundary and beside Humbleton Hill where there are remnants of an iron age hill fort.
Wooler Parish Council raised concerns over potential noise impact on residents and visual impact on the village, its conservation area and surrounding area, while 37 residents objected.
A planning officer had initially recommended approval but members were told English Heritage had asked for further consultation to allow consideration of the impact on three scheduled monuments and the application was withdrawn.