OBJECTORS to a wind farm development near Stillington have made a formal complaint after Stockton Borough Council nodded through plans to make the turbine blades larger.

Banks Renewables was granted permission to build four wind turbines at Lambs Hill, Stillington, near Stockton, in 2011.

The company recently asked the council if it could increase the size of the turbine blades, which council officers approved without putting the matter to councillors in a planning meeting.

Eleanor Lane and Catherine Hart, both of Foxton, near Stillington, have now made a formal complaint to the council over the way the decision has been handled.

They said about 50 to 60 more households would be affected by the greater blade length and that these households had not been informed.

In their letter, they said: "Banks, the developer, have also made a "minor modification" application to change the "arrangement" of the turbines.

"The propellers are being extended from a rotor arm of 92.5 metres to 100metres. This is a fundamental change.

"We strongly believe that the council is not taking due care and consideration of residents in this case and believe that the council should consider this "non material" application as a major change therefore insist on a new application for the Lambs Hill wind farm.

"Overall we feel that the process dealing with this development is fundamentally flawed and the residents affected are not consulted or informed fully.

Lewis Stokes, development relations co-ordinator at The Banks Group, said:"We have gone through all the appropriate processes with Stockton Borough Council in applying for the go-ahead to do this.

"The use of these more efficient new turbines has been specified due to advances in renewable energy technology in the last few years, and they will allow us to generate substantially more clean, green energy from the same number of turbines at the Lambs Hill wind farm with no increase to the overall turbine height."

He said stringent planning conditions were in place and there was no evidence to suggest the increased length of turbine blades would have any extra effect on nearby homes.

A spokesperson for Stockton Borough Council said: “National planning legislation allows for alterations to a scheme that already has planning permission via a simple application procedure called a non-material amendment. In this case the applicant sought to increase the length of the turbine blades.

“As this is a non-material amendment to an existing consent and not an application for planning permission, the statutory consultation and publicity requirements for a planning application do not apply. However, the relevant statutory bodies were consulted and specialist advice sought on various matters, including potential noise issues, before the amendment was approved.”