THE world's biggest urban wind farm could be built in the North-East, it was announced with some fanfare this week.

An area of derelict industrial land on the south bank of the Tees estuary has been earmarked for the building of 30 or more wind turbines. If built, the farm could generate enough electricity to keep alight towns the size of Redcar, Guisborough and Saltburn combined.

The scheme's promoters also promised lots of jobs and the possible attraction to Teesside of a manufacturer of state-of-the-art wind turbines. It would go a long way towards Northern Electric & Gas' obligation to supply 10pc of its electricity from rennewable sources by the year 2010.

As sites for possible wind farms go, the land owned by the steelmaker Corus is probably among the best anyone could find in the region. It is windy, relatively remote from residential areas and, with apologies to Grangetown and South Bank, not in an area of great natural beauty.

But questions about the need for such a wind farm here in the North-East remain. The region currently generates more than enough electricity for its own needs which means the power from a Teesside wind farm would have to be moved, courtesy of the national grid, to other areas of the country, mainly the South-East.

As the campaign organisation Revolt has told us many times in its long-running battle against the power line due to be built through the Vale of York, transmission of electricity over great distances is wasteful. It doesn't make a great deal of sense to generate electricity in an environmentally-friendly way in the North-East and then transfer it in an environmentally-unfriendly way elsewhere.

By all means encourage the development of the technology here in the North-East. But the best place for a wind farm of this scale is on the banks of the Thames estuary, not the Tees.