Worries grow over 'sea' of turbines in the North East

ALMOST 200 more wind turbines could soon be put up across the North East, The Journal can reveal.

wind turbine being erected in County Durham, one of many already in operation around the region
wind turbine being erected in County Durham, one of many already in operation around the region

ALMOST 200 more wind turbines could soon be put up across the North East, The Journal can reveal.

Applicants want to put another 194 of the turbines in Northumberland, Gateshead and County Durham, according to local councils.

About 109 of these applications come in addition to farms that have already won planning permission, our survey discloses.

The figures come days after a motion to slow down the rate of wind farm approvals in Northumberland was rejected by councillors. But they backed an alternative motion to consult more widely about the future of the farms.

The applications range from a site of 18 turbines with the capacity to produce 75 megawatts of energy to several single turbines on farms.

In Northumberland, 19 turbines are under construction, 59 have been approved subject to a raft of different conditions and a further 33 have received planning permission.

Planners there are examining plans to put up 13 turbines in Maidens Hall, Widdrington. Plans to erect a further 39 turbines have been through the council’s initial screening and scoping stage.

Durham County Council is currently reviewing two applications for five turbines each at Sheraton Hill, east of Durham, and at Hamsterley Forest.

The council’s planners expect another application for five turbines at Wingate in the next few weeks and between 10 and 12 applications for single turbines on farms.

Planners in Gateshead are considering a single application for a turbine at Eighton Banks. A further two schemes have asked the council if they will require an environmental impact assessment before planning approval is given.

Newcastle, North Tyneside, South Tyneside and Sunderland councils have received no applications.

Coun Glen Sanderson, who brought the Northumberland motion calling for a halt to applications, said he was surprised by the number of potential turbines uncovered by our survey.

He said the new figures were “even more disturbing” for opponents of wind farms. “The people that I represent are firmly of the view that Northumberland has already had its fair share of applications,” he said.

“People feel wholly frustrated that their voice cannot and is not being heard on such a fundamentally important issue.”

He said he would continue to raise the issue on behalf of his constituents because wind farms could reduce tourism to the area and damage its countryside.

But a spokesman for Renewable UK, a group which represents firms behind wind farms, said: “Our planning system already factors in the impact of existing wind farms when assessing planning applications and so putting arbitrary limits on wind farms is wrong.

“We should continue to assess each wind farm on a case by case basis. After all, during these difficult economic times putting a random limit on job creation and investment seems strange.

“Wind farms represent an investment of millions of pounds, of which about a third is retained in the region in the form of jobs, contracts and supplies.”

The industry employs 10,000 people across the UK and will soon hire more, he added.

Page 2: Wind turbine map

Wind turbine map

Wind turbine map

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