THE battle to build a controversial wind turbine at Hexham Racecourse is back on.
An appeal has been lodged against Northumberland County Council’s rejection of the plans last July.
Local people fought against the 47-metre high turbine, which was to be sited on high ground visible for miles around, including the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site five miles north.
Racecourse chief executive Charles Enderby said the move was necessary to generate extra income after the prospect of six-figure Horse Racing Levy Board reductions.
But county decision-makers decided the turbine would be unsuitable and threw it out on a majority vote.
Now, after seven months, Mr Enderby confirmed an appeal has been put in and said: “We are very optimistic that the appeal will be successful.
“The project was recommended for approval by the planning professionals and we are hopeful their view will be shared by the Planning Inspectorate.”
The move is set to stir up another angry response among protesters who fought the original plans last summer.
Hexham Liberal Democrat councillor Derek Kennedy, who represented local residents in the dispute in 2012, said he was “disappointed” to learn of the planning appeal.
He said: “A 47-metre turbine is huge and it will dominate the skyline as you approach Hexham from the A69.
“This is in Green Belt land and within 1,000 metres of the Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is far too sensitive a position. I think this is really unnecessary and just the wrong site for such an industrial turbine.
“The energy generated goes directly to the national grid, not to the racecourse, so it is being used to generate income not for energy uses at the racecourse.
“There are better and alternative solutions. There is a huge south-facing roof at the racecourse which could accommodate lots of solar panels and deliver a sustainable energy solution.”
Original plans for two smaller turbines at the racecourse were pared down to a single larger one.
Supporters claimed the 225kw turbine at High Yarridge to the west of the course would bring major benefits. And Mr Enderby indicated the development could open the way for other racecourses to find clean green ways of bringing in additional income.
Planners recommending acceptance said that although the turbine was “inappropriate development” in the Green Belt, there were “very special circumstances” and benefits which would outweigh the “minimal” impact on the openness of the green belt.
However, despite the planning officers’ backing for the scheme, it was voted out on a 7-4 majority at Northumberland County Council’s full Planning Committee on July 3.