THE region’s rural landscapes face being blighted by wind farms unless the Government develops a co-ordinated approach to renewable energy projects, it has been claimed.

The criticism from two North-East MPs follows a big rise in the number of proposals for wind farms submitted to local councils.

Plans for at least ten wind farms, mainly in the Tees Valley and east Durham areas, have been put forward.

Although some proposals are still at their early stages, campaigners fear an extra 60 turbines could be erected in the region – on top of more than 50 already established or approved by planners.

Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson said he was deeply concerned about what he describes as a “massive expansion” of wind turbines in his constituency.

The politician said he supported the Government’s objectives on climate change.

However, he added: “There does not seem to be any co-ordinated approach to the wind farm proposals.

“While I am not against renewable energy, I do not believe it to be fair to the residents who live in this very rural area of the constituency, for wind farms to become the defining characteristic of the local landscape.

“I reiterate, this is not a case of ‘not in my backyard’. However, I would like to think I had room left in my backyard for something other than wind turbines.”

Broadview Energy’s plans for three turbines on farmland between Hilton and Seamer, in countryside near Stockton, have split local opinion, with officials receiving 367 letters of objection and 216 in support.

On Friday, the plans were rejected by Stockton Borough Council.

Local MPs Dari Taylor, Labour, and Tory shadow minister William Hague had both opposed the plans.

Ms Taylor last night called on the Government to develop a national strategy for wind farm developments, adding: “Private energy companies see it as a pot of gold for them if they can link to nearby overhead power lines.

“I’m not having them becoming a blight on our landscapes.”

Ms Taylor said she suggested to Broadview that Teesside’s industrial areas would be more suitable for a wind farm.

“They wrote back saying it was the wrong kind of wind,”

the MP said.

Proposals for wind farms in the region have often been beset by controversy.

Campaigners say the turbines are unsightly, noisy and damaging to wildlife.

However, Prime Minister Gordon Brown told a wind energy conference in London, last week, that ministers are committed to meeting a target to produce 15 per cent of the UK’s energy supply from renewable sources, including wind power, by 2020.

Councillor Brian Jones, who represents Sadberge on Darlington Borough Council, has raised concerns about plans for more than 20 turbines near the village.

He believes energy companies are “racing” to be the first to submit planning applications.

He said: “I believe there is a danger that applications will be submitted that have not been properly thought through. Once an application is approved, the turbines can be in place for at least 20 years.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government said that ministers believed local councils were best placed to make decisions regarding wind farm developments.

A spokesman said controversial applications could be assessed by the national planning inspectorate if necessary.