Campaign group dismayed over new wind farm plans

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant News Editor

OBJECTORS battling plans for a £12.5 million wind farm in the North-East countryside have expressed dismay after revised proposals were submitted.

Plans for the Windy Bank wind farm, near Hamsterley Forest, in County Durham, have been in the pipeline for about five years but were put on hold while further wildlife surveys were carried out at the site.

Last month, Banks Renewables submitted a revised application to Durham County Council requesting planning permission to build a scaled down facility, comprising four turbines instead of five.

A spokesman for the Hamsterley and Upper Gaunless Action Group (HUGAG), which is fighting the proposals, said: “One or two things are better, for instance that the most southerly turbine has been removed from the scheme and the previously proposed road, crossing the Linburn Beck and travelling over the most ecologically rich area of the site, has been abandoned.

“But other things are much worse.

“The height of the remaining four turbines has been increased, from 115m to 125m, which means they would also have longer blades.

“They would thus be visible over a far wider area and would make more noise.

“We have been battling this proposal for five years already and we are not going to stop now.”

The group also estimated that the new access routes would mean that a HGV would travel through the village of Woodland every seven minutes, during the operating hours of construction at the site.

A document contained within the planning application stated: “Despite its reduction in turbine numbers, the proposed development remains a significant civil engineering project and represents a significant investment by a locally-based company into the local economy.

“Since the original application was made, the applicant company has been working closely with the County Durham Community Foundation to increase the effectiveness of the investments it makes into the local economy.”

The application also states that the developer would contribute up to £70,000 per annum, from the site into local communities, as opposed to the £25,000 stated in the original application.

If the proposals are given the go-ahead, construction of the facility would take about eight months.

To view the planning application online, visit spatial.durham.gov.uk/dcs/SearchMain.asp and search for application reference number CMA/6/48.

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