Wind farm bosses given more time to tackle radar issue in Northumberland

Bosses of a planned wind farm at Widdrington have been given more time to tackle the impact of their turbines on Newcastle Airport

A wind turbine
A wind turbine

A renewable energy firm has been given more time to address the impact of its planned Northumberland wind farm on the radar at the region’s biggest airport.

Infinis has however been knocked back in its bid to use 130m turbines at its Sisters Wind Farm site near Widdrington.

The company originally sought to put up five 140m turbines at the former Sisters opencast coal mine.

The site is also close to land where tens of thousands of slaughtered farm animals were buried during the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic.

The company eventually asked Northumberland County Council for planning permission for four 126m engines.

The scheme was said to have a capacity of 10 megawatts and to be capable of powering between 4,000 and 5,000 homes a year.

It was opposed by Widdrington Village Parish Council, Widdrington Station and Stobswood Parish Council and the Widdrington Village residents’ association.

It generated 35 objections and 17 letters of support from local people.

County planning officers recommended approval in February 2012 and members voted accordingly.

Permission was subject to a condition that the developer had 12 months in which to agree a scheme to mitigate the effects of its turbines on the primary surveillance radar at Newcastle International Airport.

However, the company recently asked the county council to be allowed to remove the condition, and to vary the condition on turbine height to instead allow 130m models to be used.

The council has now approved the first request but refused the second.

A spokeswoman confirmed: “Sisters Wind Farm Limited applied for non-material amendments to two of the conditions of their permission for four turbines and associated infrastructure.

“It has been agreed that the 12 month time limit on approving the mitigation scheme for primary surveillance radar at Newcastle Airport can be extended.

“However the company will still need to submit a mitigation scheme for the primary surveillance radar before they start development.

“The application to increase the turbine tip height from 126 metres to 130 metres has been refused, and we have advised the applicant that they should apply for this as a formal variation to the planning permission, rather than an amendment to conditions.”

A spokesman for Infinis said: “The council originally advised that an increase in height from 126m to 130m would be a non-material amendment because this difference in height would not be apparent to the naked eye.

“However, when our submission was considered in more detail by the council it was realised that because our formal development description specifically refers to 126m turbines, any increase would require a material amendment rather than a non-material amendment.

“Infinis will discuss next steps with Northumberland County Council.

“However, even without the requested small increase in tip height, Infinis does not foresee any significant barriers to commencing construction on site in approximately 12 months.

“The original condition relating to the radar at Newcastle Airport was worded in such a way that it could no longer be implemented.

“Newcastle Airport have been consulted on the amendment and have no issues with the change.”


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