THE Government has thrown out plans for two wind farms in Northumberland but allowed a third.
Proposals for seven turbines at Toft Hill and seven at Moorsyde, both near Berwick, have been rejected but plans for six 110-metre engines at nearby Barmoor have been approved.
The decisions were taken by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government John Denham in line with the recommendations of a planning inspector who conducted a public inquiry into the three schemes last year.
The inquiry followed the now defunct Berwick Borough Council’s decision to refuse all three schemes in March 2008 and the developers’ subsequent appeals.
Hundreds of local people had opposed the wind farms throughout the planning process, claiming they would ruin views of the Northumberland countryside and make the area less attractive for tourists. Three action groups formed to fight the plans. Now Mr Denham has ruled Catamount Energy’s Barmoor project would not have an unacceptable impact on views or a significant effect on scheduled ancient monuments and cultural heritage.
But Mr Denham found Your Energy’s Moorsyde scheme would have a major effect on the landscape and views of the Cheviots and would breach accepted noise limits. The minister also decided npower renewables’ Toft Hill project would have an unacceptable impact on the Duddo Standing Stones.
Objectors were last night delighted by the rejection of the two schemes after five-and-a-half years of fighting but voiced bitter disappointment at the approval of the Barmoor project.
They fear the approval of that scheme could open the floodgates for more applications.
The Save our Unspoilt Landscape (SOUL) group, set up to fight the Barmoor wind farm, said it will be meeting to discuss any action it can take to stop the project going ahead, and is considering a High Court challenge.
A spokesman for the Moorsyde Action Group said: “While celebrating the refusal of the Moorsyde and Toft Hill appeals, we feel a deep sympathy for all the people who will be affected by the approval of the Barmoor scheme.
“These turbines will cause what many consider to be unacceptable damage to the historic and ecologically valuable landscape of Barmoor, Ford Moss and Broomridge. They will also impact on local tourist businesses.”
Andrew Joicey, of SOUL, said: “Most people would be delighted that Moorsyde and Toft Hill were turned down and deeply upset that Barmoor has been allowed. It is on the whole a great victory, two out of three have at last been dismissed. It has taken a lot of years to fight this and there will no doubt be more to come.”
Meanwhile, one of the refused developers said it would seek to learn lessons from its defeat.
John Ainslie, head of consents for npower renewables, said: “We are very disappointed not to have received permission for Toft Hill wind farm.
“We remain of the view that it is a high-quality proposal, but we will be looking in detail at the reasons given for the refusal in order to learn any lessons.”
The decisions were made by the minister rather than the inspector after he decided in August 2008 the proposals were of “major significance” in tackling climate change.