Peers demand an end to 'ugly, noisy' Northumberland wind farms

'It's not even that windy there', said peers demanding change to 'bonkers' planning laws for wind turbines in the North East countryside

Wind turbine at Lynemouth, Northumberland
Wind turbine at Lynemouth, Northumberland

Peers have demanded changes to planning laws to prevent so many wind farms being built in Northumberland.

The county is bearing too big a burden of the country’s renewable energy needs, peers including the Bishop of Newcastle claimed.

The Rt Rev Martin Wharton said that too many parts of Northumberland’s landscape had been “scarred and disfigured”.

“Northumberland has more wind capacity installed than the 16 counties in the south of England put together,” he said.

The Bishop of Newcastle, The Rt Rev Martin Wharton
The Rt Rev Martin Wharton
 

“A recent survey claimed that 70% of the British public support onshore wind. The truth is that 70% of the British public live in areas where they will never ever have to put up with the sight or the sound of a wind turbine.”

He said during a House of Lords debate that wind farms in Northumberland had “proliferated across the countryside to an alarming degree”.

He called for “an end to any further funds for on-shore wind, especially in Northumberland”.

And he added: “The message from this debate is ‘enough is enough’.”

Tory Viscount Ridley said: “Northumberland consumes just 0.6% of England’s electricity but produces 10% of England’s wind energy. It is doing far, far more than its share.

Writer and landowner Viscount Ridley who raised the broadband campaign in the Lords
Writer and landowner Viscount Ridley

“It produces from wind electricity 172% of its total electricity needs, that’s twice as much as Scotland in terms of that ratio.”

He said it had never been envisaged that the burden would fall so heavily on one county.

Lord Ridley asked Energy Minister Baroness Verma: “Can you look at the planning system to see if there is some way of equalling the balance?

“Why must Northumberland bear the brunt of this often bonkers policy?”

And he added: “The final irony is that Northumberland is not even that windy.”

Tory Lord Vinson said: “Government-subsidised foreign companies are destroying Northumberland’s heritage and this must be prevented.”

Labour peer Baroness Quin, introducing the debate, called for the Government to prevent “further damaging schemes from going ahead”.

Baroness Joyce Quin
Baroness Joyce Quin
 

Lord Grantchester, for Labour, said that onshore wind was the cheapest form of low-carbon electricity so needed to be an “essential part” of the UK’s energy provision.

But he said the planning system needs competing interests to be taken into account.

“Clearly something is going wrong in Northumberland,” he said.

Lady Verma recognised the concerns raised by peers but said the UK needed to meet its targets to reduce reliance on carbon.

“Of course wherever turbines are going to be located, communities have got to have a greater say in whether they want them there or not,” she said.

“And we must be clear that it has been this Government that has taken those concerns very, very seriously, listened hard to what those communities have said and have responded - given that a lot of the planning for those turbines were already in the system when we came into Government.”

She said the Government had made it compulsory for more consultation to take place between developers and communities.

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