Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A section of Hadrian’s Wall will be blighted by the construction of a 89-ft wind turbine – if plans are approved today by Northumberland County Council.

One objector to the scheme close to the Roman wall voiced his disappointment that the project – which is one of five similar schemes in the area – looked set to go ahead, claiming Northumberland is ‘carrying the brunt’ of turbine development.

The application is for the turbine at Houghton North Farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall, a quarter of a mile from the world heritage site, on the edge of its buffer zone and close to the wall’s national trail.

A total of 13 residents have objected, as has Heddon-on-the-Wall Parish Council. Concerns have been raised not only over the impact on Hadrian’s Wall but also development of greenbelt, impact on neighbouring properties and on wildlife, and the scale of the turbine.

Ian Clayton, 67, of Bluebell Cottages, said: ‘It is obviously fairly close to the Roman wall. We get a lot of visitors here, and it is going to be clearly seen from certain areas.’

However, according to the local Journal newspaper, members of the council’s planning and environment committee are being advised to give planning permission at their meeting today.

Also recommended for approval at the same meeting is a bid for a turbine at Hexham racecourse, which is within the green belt.

The application was deferred at the committee’s last meeting, to allow consideration of concerns raised by the AONB partnership over impact on the landscape. It attracted 52 letters of objection.

The third scheme backed by planning officers is to allow developers of the under-construction Green Rigg wind farm at Birtley to extend the hours they can work at the site.

The fourth supported application is for a 164-ft monitoring mast beside the A1 at Felton.

Nine objections have been received with concerns voiced over road safety and potential for a turbine at the site, including by local county councillor Glen Sanderson.

The fifth proposal that members are being asked to support is for a 197-ft mast at Belford for three years.

The application, from EnergieKontor, has yielded nine letters of objection as well as opposition from Belford Parish Council.

Concerns have been raised over the need for the mast, impact on cultural heritage, the heritage coast, St Cuthbert’s and St Oswald’s Way and tourism.

Last night, Mr Clayton voiced his displeasure at the prospect of all five applications being approved.

He said: ‘If that is the case, I would be very disappointed. I thought it was felt Northumberland was saturated enough; there was going to be a bit of a back off on these wind turbines.

‘If they were not subsidised they would not be going up. I do not think many people are for them. If they were useful, I think they would be fine, but I am not convinced.

‘I am really disappointed with that. We seem to be carrying the brunt of wind turbines.’

The British National Party strongly opposes the construction of wind farms.

So far, over 2,000 have been built, at vast public subsidy, but they contribute less than one percent of the UK’s energy needs.

As well as blighting the landscape, wind farms are costly to maintain, and the electricity they generate is more expensive than that produced by other means. Large wind farms are needed to provide entire communities with enough power. For example, the largest single turbine available today can only provide enough electricity for 475 homes, when running at full capacity.

The turbines also make a constant low noise – compared to that of a small jet engine – that can make life hell for residents and in turn drive down house prices.

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