PLANS have emerged to put a wind farm on land owned by a leading member of the Conservative Party in Northumberland.
A planning application has been made for a 77.9m turbine on land near Ponteland owned by Peter Jackson, leader of the Conservative opposition group on Northumberland County Council.
Coun Jackson, a former leader of Castle Morpeth Borough Council, last night told The Journal he had no knowledge of the application until it was lodged with the authority and denied being actively involved in the proposal.
But neighbours have called on him to make clear his views on the application after he refused to say whether he was for or against the scheme, and whether he would allow the turbine to be built on his land if it is given the go-ahead.
The application is for a single turbine on land south west of East Coldcoats Farm at Ponteland. It has come from Green Energy Ponteland Ltd and was submitted on its behalf by land agent George F White.
The land is owned by Coun Jackson, member for Ponteland South with Heddon, and his wife Val, who live at Edge House, Belsay.
Last night, the councillor insisted he and his wife had known nothing of the application until they received a notification letter from the company – which he claimed is “not connected to me at all” – when it was submitting the proposal.
He said: “I have tried very strenuously to keep out of it because of my position.
“I do not want to be seen to be for or against, I want the planning process to take its course and not influence it one way or the other.”
Retired David Elliott, 68, whose Smallburn home would be 700m from the turbine, has objected to the application.
He said last night: “Peter is not being very forthcoming to anyone that knows him. To say it is nothing to do with him or imply that is asking people to stretch their imagination a little.
“I think he has to clarify his position given the nature of his role on the county council and he is leader of the Conservative group as well. I think he has to be open because that is one of the principles that guides his public life.
“I would have thought he ought to make his own personal position very clear on this.” Fellow objector Jill McIntyre, a 55-year-old HR consultant, whose home at East Coldcoats is less than 500m from the turbine, added: “I cannot say we are happy about it but we do not think he is doing anything that any other businessman would do in the circumstances.
“We do not have any problem with Mr Jackson personally but it is disappointing to be faced with this problem.”
The application had been due to be determined by the council’s planning and environment committee last night.
Objections had come in from 39 residents, Ponteland Parish Council and Ponteland Civic Society, based on the site being within green belt land and proximity of the turbines to people’s homes.
Northumbria Police had also objected relating to impact on telecommunications and separation distances from its Ponteland headquarters. The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England was also opposed while the Northumberland and Newcastle Society voiced concerns.
The committee was being recommended to approve, but the application was deferred until a later date for what the council called “procedural issues.”
Last year former Northumberland county councillor Neil Carmichael, now a Conservative MP in Gloucestershire, was criticised after allowing a wind farm to be built on land he owned in Northumberland at the same time as opposing turbines in his new constituency.
I do not want to be seen to be for or against, I want the planning process to take its course