After four years of sustained opposition by MBAG and others to proposals for wind turbine development in the Belford area, we are pleased to report some positive news:
- Northumberland County Council confirmed the statutory 12 month deadline for submitting a revised proposal for Belford Burn by EnergieKontor passed on 8th October meaning they would now have to start completely from scratch with a totally new planning application;
- Nothing has been heard from Air Farmers since their “final” public exhibition this time last year for the Middleton Burn proposal. Whilst they have regularly said they were about to submit an application, nothing formal has ever actually been submitted to Northumberland County Council apart from their initial scoping report in 2011. They have failed to respond to repeated requests for information on their intentions from both ourselves and the planning department;
- We are glad to hear similar positive news at potential nearby developments. Shoreswood (Duddo Stones) was refused by the Secretary of State following protracted legal wrangles and appeals. Charlton Mires was recently refused by the NCC planning committee. The developers of the proposed Ditchburn 9 turbine windfarm (Eglingham) have announced this week that they will not be submitting an application due to “changes in the market situation in England“!
Clearly, the Government’s changes in June 2015 to the subsidy regime for on-shore wind turbines has dulled developers’ appetite for such investments. It seems the combination of the new commercial reality and effective community opposition really is helping prevent inappropriate development of wind turbines in Northumberland.
The MBAG committee will remain very vigilant as situations can change quickly and sometimes in unexpected ways. The new Northumberland County Plan (core strategy) which is currently out to consultation is very helpful in protecting this part of the county from wind turbine development. If it is adopted in its current form next year, this should provide further statutory protection.
We would like to thank all those who have contributed expertise and resources to MBAG over the last four years. Your committee continues to meet regularly and is very active in monitoring the situation. The next planned public meeting is our AGM in February 2016 when we will again report on progress and future plans.