Northumberland wind farm protesters urge council to take action

A WIND farm developer which ditched plans to site turbines in Northumberland has failed to remove a mast for which permission has expired.

From left John Thompson, Catherine Thompson, Catherine Pape and Tom Pape who have won their fight against a wind farm

A WIND farm developer which ditched plans to site turbines in Northumberland has failed to remove a mast for which permission has expired.

Developer RES gave up on its bid to put nine engines on land near Morpeth in June 2011.

But now it has emerged that a wind monitoring mast which the company put up at the site is still in place, despite the planning approval for it having expired four months ago.

A critic of the scheme last night slammed the developer and also the local planning authority for failing to take any action against it.

He also questioned why the company had left the mast in place for 18 months despite having given up on its turbine proposal. RES applied in 2009 for planning permission to erect nine turbines at Park Head, near Netherwitton.

The developer later appealed to the planning inspectorate on the grounds that Northumberland County Council had failed to decide its application inside a 16-week target.

It requested a public inquiry, but shortly before that was due to begin in June 2011, the company withdrew its application.

It has now emerged that a mast the company put up at the site to monitor wind speeds is still in place, even though the planning permission for it expired in September.

The structure should have been removed and the land restored by the end of November.

John Thompson, chairman of the Wingates not Wind farms action group which opposed the turbine bid, contacted local planning authority Northumberland County Council in November to ask what action was to be taken against the developer.

He was told the company planned to take down the mast on December 7 and that no enforcement action was planned given the intention to remove and the short time since the permission expired. The mast is still in place, however.

Mr Thompson last night said: “The developers cannot be allowed to leave the countryside strewn with structures erected for a purpose that no longer exists and the council should be taking action to ensure that they do not remain unpunished after permission has expired.”

A spokeswoman for RES said a condition of its approval requires a decommissioning methodology for the removal of the mast to be agreed. “We are in close discussion with the local authority on this point with a view to removing the mast as soon as possible.”

A council spokeswoman insisted: “The council takes all breaches of planning permission or planning conditions seriously and carries out investigations and enforcement work that is appropriate for each case.”

BT also has a mast in place at Wingates, for which permission has expired.

The company, which was refused planning permission for three turbines at the site and chose not to appeal, had approval to have the structure in place until the end of November.

However, the company has until the end of January to remove it and says it plans to do so “later this month”.

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