Holy war over wind farm near St Andrew's church
Jul 11 2008 by Ben Guy, The Journal
A WIND farm proposal that could see turbines built less than a kilometre from an historical monument and an ancient church will be opposed by a Northumberland council.
Energy firm npower renewables is behind an application to erect six of the structures, measuring up to 100 metres, on land to the South East of Kiln Pit Hill, close to the Northumberland-County Durham border.
But the application has angered residents who say the development is too close to the Grade I listed Hopper Mausoleum and Grade II listed St Andrew’s Church.
Chairman of Shotley Low Quarter Parish Council, Joan Henderson, said people were unhappy with many aspects of the proposal.
She added: “The council has also objected on the grounds of it being on the edge of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and it is an area where you get a lot of low flying aircraft.
“There are also lots of migrating birds that come over this way from the Derwent Reservoir.
“There are just so many things that people are unhappy about – apart from anything else it is near houses, particularly in Unthank.”
English Heritage has also objected to the proposal, saying that the turbines would have a “damaging impact” on the setting of the mausoleum and church, and that views would be “severely compromised and eroded” by the wind farm.
Tynedale Council has received a petition carrying more than 200 names objecting to the plans, as well as 91 letters of objection.
Npower has appealed to the Secretary of State over the application, originally submitted in 2006, after Tynedale Council failed to determine the original application within the time allowed.
At next week’s meeting Tynedale Council Development Control Committee will formally object to the plans.
A report that will go before the council states: “It is acknowledged that the proposed wind farm would bring forward benefits in terms of a contribution towards addressing issues of climate change.
“However these benefits would not outweigh the considerable harm that the proposal would cause in respect of its impact on the historic heritage of the area and the landscape setting of nationally important listed buildings and civil aviation interests, due to impacts on Newcastle International Airport.”
John Ainslie, of npower renewables, said that the company felt people would still be able to appreciate the church and mausoleum if the farm was built.
He said: “The Kiln Pit Hill area has been identified by the county council and the Regional Assembly as an ‘area of least constraint’ for commercial wind farm development.
“We believe that Kiln Pit Hill is an appropriate site for a medium size wind farm.
“If approved, the Kiln Pit Hill Wind Farm will make a significant contribution towards the requirement for renewable energy in Tynedale and the North East.”
BIGGEST SO FAR
WORK on building the North East’s biggest ever wind farm begins today.
The Banks Group is to build 12 turbines, each over 300ft high, on land near Satley, between Lanchester and Tow Law, County Durham.
The development will be known as the West Durham Wind Farm.
Banks says the project will provide sufficient energy for 13,500 homes, and enable County Durham to be the first English county to hit its 2010 renewable energy target.
But local residents are not convinced. Barbara Armstrong, a parish councillor in the nearby hamlet of Cornsay, said: "I do not believe these turbines will satisfy the demand for electricity without a nuclear back-up.
"I hope that one day we will become used to them but it will take a long time before the turbines blend into the landscape."
The Banks Group has agreed to plough £24,000 per year into the Cornsay community for the 25-year shelf life of the turbines, and Mrs Armstrong, whose husband Joe is a Durham County Councillor, added: "The money is very welcome but in all honesty I still wish the wind farm was not going to happen. I also hope that in 25 years time they won’t just be left to stand and rot."