Major wind farm plans for Belford and Netherwitton set for rejection

Major plans for wind farms at Belford and Netherwitton are likely to be thrown out by Northumberland County Council next week

Blimps flown above Rayburn Lakes by RES
Blimps flown above Rayburn Lakes by RES

Plans for two major wind farms in the Northumberland countryside look set to be thrown out, to the delight of objectors.

County councillors are next week being recommended to reject proposals for nine 100m turbines at Belford and five 125m structures at Netherwitton.

The recommendations have been warmly welcomed by people who have fought both schemes, which together faced hundreds of objections from residents, parish councils and various other bodies.

The application for land North of Belford Burn is from Energiekontor UK Ltd and would have 18MW and 22.5MW of generating capacity.

Planning permission has already been granted for the erection of a 60m monitoring mast at the site on appeal.

Five hundred objections have been submitted by residents while opposition has come in from parish councils at Belford, Beadnell, Bamburgh, Holy Island, Tillside and Lowick.

The National Trust, Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership, Berwick Wildlife Group, Northumberland Badger Group, Royal Society Of Protection Of Birds, Northumberland Wildlife Trust, and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have also lodged objections.

There have been nine letters of support.

The application at Netherwitton is from RES UK and Ireland Ltd and seeks turbines at Park Head Farm, close to Rayburn Lake, along with two 80m monitoring masts.

Objections have come in from 159 residents and Longhorsley, Rothley with Hollinghhill and Netherwitton parish councils.

There has also been opposition from the MoD, Newcastle International Airport, National Air Traffic Services, Northumberland National Park Authority and the British Horse Society.

Two letters of support have been penned.

The application was due to be determined last month with a recommendation that it be refused. However it was instead deferred to allow planning officers to consider any implications of the decision to refuse plans for turbines at Fenrother near Morpeth.

Now, both the Belford and Netherwitton schemes go before Northumberland County Council’s planning committee next Tuesday with a recommendation that they be refused.

Kerry Noble, vice chairman of the Middleton Burn Action Group, which is fighting the Belford scheme, said: “We are extremely pleased that the officer has seen the major problems.

“And we are hopeful that the entire committee will follow his advice and vote unanimously against this intrusion.”

The group is meeting tonight to discuss the officer’s findings and chairman Chris Craddock will be speaking at next week’s meeting.

A spokesperson for Energiekontour said: “It is estimated that Belford Burn Wind Farm could generate up to 82GWh of electricity per annum, powering up to 19,000 homes and saving 35,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

“If approved the wind farm would provide a community fund of up to £112,500 each year of its operational life.

“That amounts to almost £3m of funding for the local community. Local construction businesses in Belford would also stand to benefit through the allocation of contracts for construction works.”

“In addition we have proposed a contribution of £500,000 towards the Belford Railway Station project.

“All told the benefit package would be the largest to come out of a wind farm in Northumberland to date.”

A spokeswoman for RES said: “The planning committee meets on October 7 to assess the application for Rayburn Wind Farm and we have no wish to pre-empt the outcome. We will be happy to issue a further statement once the decision is known.”

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