Controversial plans for a wind turbine in the Northumberland countryside are being recommended for approval, despite more than 100 objections.
Northumberland County Council planning officers are advising members to give the go-ahead for the 78-metre structure on a farm at Thropton, near Rothbury, in the face of opposition from residents, parish councils, bosses at nearby Northumberland National Park and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
The turbine proposal is for an engine 50 metre to hub height, 78 metres to tip, on land associated with Follions Farm, Weststeads.
It has yielded objections in 107 letters from residents and four parish councils – Harbottle; Glanton; Whittingham, Callaly and Alnham; and Netherton with Biddlestone. Northumberland National Park Authority and the CPRE have also lodged opposition. A Facebook page and website have also been set up by residents under the banner Fight Follions Wind Farm.
Objections are based on impact on the character of the local and wider landscape, on the visual amenity of the area, and on the local economy including tourism.
Yet county council officers are recommending the scheme be approved at a meeting of the authority’s planning and environment and public rights of way committee on August 6.
Officers conclude: “The proposed wind turbine would contribute to the provision of a sustainable source of locally produced renewable energy that is consistent with national and local planning policies.
“The proposed development would not have a significant adverse impact on the character of the landscape, heritage assets, ecology, highways, noise, or shadow flicker.
“The potential impacts on the local landscape and visual amenity in terms of nearby land users are not considered to be of such significance to outweigh the wider benefits of the proposed wind turbine in terms of renewable energy provision.”
Last night, Tony Meikle, a part-time photographer from Glanton and former editor of the village’s website, voiced his surprise at the recommendation and his hope that councillors would go against the advice.
Mr Meikle said: “It is totally out of place there. We are right bang in the high scenic area and the single so-called farm sized turbines, they are not farm sized, they are great big industrial things. They are there to plug into the grid and make money for someone.
“It is close to the hills, it is very, very close to the national park, it is very obvious from there.
“It is very obvious from the Simonside hills, it is very obvious from the hills at Thrunton Woods which are very popular. Once you get one of these farm ones the countryside becomes a mess.”