Campaigners' joy after wind turbine plans thrown out

The Advertiser Series: PLANS REFUSED: A wind turbine will not be built on farmland near Darlington, planners have decided. Library picture. PLANS REFUSED: A wind turbine will not be built on farmland near Darlington, planners have decided. Library picture.

CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after controversial plans for a 95ft wind turbine on farmland were refused.

Alternative Energy Contracting Ltd wanted to build the turbine at Leggs Cross Farm, in Bolam, near Darlington.

Planning officers from Darlington Borough Council have rejected the application under delegated powers.

Although the height of the mast itself was 29m (95ft), the height to the tip of the rotor blade would have been almost 42m (137ft) – more than twice the height of the Angel of the North.

Durham Tees Valley Airport and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) objected, saying the turbine would have an impact on radar systems.

The MoD was concerned that the turbine would have a negative impact on the radar system performance at RAF Leeming.

A total of 17 responses were also received from local residents, who expressed concerns that the development would:

• Spoil the landscape and be visible for miles around;

• Have a detrimental impact on Leggs Cross monument and Bolam Conservation Area;

• Affect a colony of Great Crested Newts;

• Be very prominent, as the site is the highest in the area;

• Negatively impact tourism.

The decision is the latest victory for members of the Bolam Area Action Group, who spent 18 months fighting plans for a seven-turbine development in the area.

A spokesman for the group said: “We are delighted with the outcome and the reasons given for the rejection which basically comprise of the MoD, visual impact and high landscape value.

“It is a victory for the area and will help preserve the beautiful countryside.

“It has taken a while to get here, but we’re here and we’re very pleased.”

In a letter to York-based AAH Planning Consultants, which acted on behalf of the applicants, the council said: “There are sweeping an uninterrupted views from the south, where it is proposed to erect the wind turbine.

“It will be clearly in view from a variety of points, and because of the elevated nature of the site, very little in the way of intervening screening will prevent members of the public from experiencing sustained views of the turbine.

“The turbine will have an unacceptable impact upon the MoD air traffic control radar at RAF Leeming.

“It will be 38.4km from, detectable by and cause interference to the radar at Leeming.

“The turbine will have an unacceptable impact upon the primary radar of Durham Tees Valley Airport.

“Trials have concluded that wind turbines can have detrimental effects on radar… the safety of the airport could be compromised.

“Insufficient information has been provided to satisfy [the council] that residential properties near the proposed turbine will not be detrimentally affected by noise.”

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