Residents' relief as turbine plans are rejected
Councillors who believe “enough is enough” have knocked back plans for a wind farm just off the A66.
Brothers Mark and Andrew Thompson submitted plans to Durham County Council to build two 46m high turbines at Punder Gill, near Barnard Castle.
The authority’s planning committee convened last Tuesday at County Hall to make a final decision on the proposals which had been met with strong objections from residents and local organisations including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and campaigners from South Teesdale Action Group (STAG).
As well as generating renewable electricity to feed into the National Grid, the plans claimed that turbines would also generate vital funds for local community groups.
It was claimed the site could have been worth up to £2million to the local community over the next 20 years.
However, the planning committee was not won over by the idea.
Keith Alexander, of South Flatts Farm, spoke on behalf of residents living within 800 metres of the site.
He said: “Most of these residents live and work at their properties.
“The local community has had this development hanging over them for the last five years.
“We believe fundamentally it is in the wrong place.”
Mr Alexander said people had come to feel “very vulnerable that their voices would not be heard” and thanked the officers for allowing them to speak.
Describing the area as a “very special landscape,” Mr Alexander told the committee that the turbines which are “twice the height of the Angel of the North” would be “extremely prominent and out of place in the landscape”.
He added: “I am not against renewable energy but it has to be sited in the right place.”
Those present at the meeting were shown visualisations of what the turbines would look like.
One of the concerns within the report to councillors and part of their refusal of the application was the effect on heritage assets and nearby listed buildings.
Councillors were told the turbines would be seen from The Bowes Museum.
Heritage was among a list of concerns detailed in 42 letters of public objection which were received.
Other concerns related to residential amenity, highway safety as well as inadequacy of submissions.
One letter of support was received from the National Farmers Union, which considered it to be important that the application was approved “to enable the farm business to continue to develop and remain profitable” and “make an important contribution to the local economy.”
Agent Paul Bailey spoke on behalf of the applicants at the meeting.
He said: “This is an application from two local landowners who are looking to diversify their farm. We accept that there are listed buildings in the area. The scale of the proposal is relatively small and the characteristics help towards mitigating some of the visual impact.”
Mr Bailey explained how the turbines would be situated in a “relatively low lying area” with screening effects from trees and that they would be grey in colour instead of bright white.
He added: “We accept that there will be an impact particularly at near distance but it will not be overbearing.”
Speaking for the residents Cllr James Rowlandson said: “These turbines are in the wrong place. They will stand out in an area that can be seen for many miles.
“I wholly agree with the officers and I would urge the committee to follow the recommendations.”
Committee member Cllr Grenville Holland said the turbines were “unnecessary” and “potentially damaging” to the local landscape.
Cllr David Boyes said: “I object to this proposal. County Durham has enough wind turbines. Enough is enough.”
Committee chairman Cllr Keith Davidson said: “These wind turbines are refused. There are some fairly robust reasons there.”
Speaking after the meeting Mr Alexander said he was “very pleased” with the outcome.
Cllr Rowlandson added: “I am more than pleased for the people that it was going to affect. You can tell by the relief that they are happy. It would have had a detrimental affect on the whole of Barnard Castle and most of the area.”