Northern Echo, 29 June, 2013
‘Controversial plans to build a 24-turbine wind farm will be decided by the local authority rather than a Government minister after developers bowed to public pressure.
‘E.ON’s decision to reduce the potential output of The Isles wind farm near Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, from 63.5 megawatts (mw) to 48mw means the development is no longer above 50mw and a matter of “national importance.”
‘This means that any planning applications relating to the scheme will now be decided by Durham County Council’s planning committee instead of the Energy Secretary.
Northern Echo, 15 December, 2012.
‘MPs have joined forces to urge council chiefs to oppose any further wind farm proposals in County Durham - arguing the area is full up.
‘Five MPs, led by Sedgefield's Phil Wilson, have penned a letter to Durham County Council's leader, urging him to "step back and consider the visual impact any further proliferation of wind farms will have on the local landscape".
‘The letter comes hard-on-the-heels of Mr Wilson's Bill, in the Commons this week, demanding that local planners - not a government minister, advised by a quango - decide on major proposals.
Northern Echo, 12 December, 2012.
‘A BILL to make it easier for local people to block the building of giant wind turbines will be presented to parliament today (Wednesday, December 12), by a North-East MP.
‘Phil Wilson, the Sedgefield MP, will urge ministers to change the rules to prevent the decision being automatically “called in” and made by a government minister.
‘The move follows growing concern over the spread of wind farms in County Durham, which has led to fears that the area will become the “land of the wind turbine”.
It has long been apparent that the 50MW threshold which allows wind turbine arrays such as E.On’s ‘Isles’ project to masquerade as an infrastructure project ‘of national significance’, decided by a Planning Inspector or Minister, is being used by some developers to sideline the local decision making process.
Mr Wilson notes that:
The threshold is used by utility companies to their advantage because they can design a wind farm to exceed the 50 MW threshold, taking the planning decision out of the hands of local planning authorities. E.ON’s proposal for the Isles is a case in point. Its original proposal was for 10 turbines, but it was withdrawn because it knew that in all likelihood Durham County Council would turn down the application because it was following an Arup report on wind farm landscape impact, which said that the Isles could not take more than four turbines. E.ON withdrew the application, and introduced a new proposal for 45 wind turbines, but has settled on a wind farm of 24 turbines after taking planning restraints into consideration.
To achieve that, however, E.ON has performed all kinds of contortions. The area allocated for the wind farm is huge, but to avoid conservation areas it is designed to stand in two clusters about 2 km apart, each with its own substation. Looking at the map, people would think there were two distinct wind farms, not one. I have pointed that out to E.ON, which told me that as the wind turbines appear within the area designated for the wind farm, it is one wind farm. On that basis, E.ON should draw a red line around the whole of County Durham and have done. E.ON’s approach is cynical and takes for granted the good nature of the people of County Durham.*
-------------------------* Quoted from Mr Wilson’s speech, presenting the bill.
KEY: Yellow - Pre-application; Red - Planning Application; Green - Consented/Under construction; Blue - Operating; White - refused/withdrawn/abandoned/derelict. Large markers with a black spot represent ‘Section 36’ applications (over 50MW nominal capacity).
Dots represent smaller, so-called ‘farm-scale’ turbines (often as big as commercial turbines).
Turbines smaller than 30m (100 ft), of which there are large numbers, are not included..
Mapping may be extended to cover neighbouring planning authorities if we can get some local help in maintaining the tables which inform these maps from groups and/or individuals - contact for more information: Tel. 01289 382702 or Email.
We welcome corrections of any errors you may find.
Northern Echo, 1 November, 2012.
‘A community group representing dozens of village halls and community centres in Teesdale has turned down the chance to cash in on a controversial wind farm proposal.
‘The board of the Teesdale Village Halls Consortium (TVHC) was asked if the group wanted to get involved in a scheme to set up a joint venture with Banks Renewables, the firm behind a £12.5m wind farm plan at Windy Bank, near Hamsterley Forest, County Durham.
‘However, in return for a stake in the wind farm, the consortium and its members would have been required to publicly state their support for the five 115 metre-high turbines.
Northern Echo, 24 October, 2012.
‘Villagers are celebrating after their four-year-long campaign against a windfarm proposal ended in victory.
‘Over 30 residents of nearby villages, including Sadberge, Bishopton and Little Stainton, attended a meeting of Darlington Borough Council's planning committee today (Wednesday, October 24) to hear the application unaninously rejected.
‘Renewable Energy was seeking to build three wind turbines on land at Newbiggin, between Darlington and Stockton.
‘Planning officer Roy Merritt recommended refusal on the grounds that the 110-metre high turbines would have a negative visual impact on the countryside, particularly when combined with the existing turbine cluster at Moorhouse and an approved development at Lambs Hill.
Durham County Council’s Planning Committee has refused an application by E.On UK for two 80m anemometer masts on their Isles site, near Newton Aycliffe.
Members cited the impact on landscape areas which are protected under the Sedgefield Borough Plan.
‘ Campaigners’ joy after temporary masts rejected’, The Advertiser, 5 September, 2012.
The residents of the villages of Hilton and Seamer, near Stockton, are trying to come to terms with their new neighbours - five giant wind turbines.
As ever, they are finding that the developer’s visualisations bear little relation to the real visual impacts of the scheme.
A Hilton resident is quoted in the local press as saying, “It’s worse than we ever dreamed of - it’s horrendous.”
‘Controversial wind farm towers over Yarm villages’, Evening Gazette, 30 June, 2012.
“Where are we now?
- The renewable electricity target for County Durham given in the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) was 82MW installed capacity (all technologies) by 2010.
- Currently we have 176MW of renewable electricity operational or approved.
- This will meet around 62% of County Durham’s household electricity consumption or 24% of the County’s overall electricity consumption.
- County Durham’s 2010 target has been exceeded by a substantial margin and the aspiration to double that target by 2020 has already been achieved.”
“Where are we heading?
- National target is now for 15% of energy (30% of electricity) to come from renewable sources by 2020.
- Nationally, government sees wind, along with biomass, as the technologies most likely to deliver renewable energy needed by 2020
- We have over 109MW of proposals (almost all onshore wind) currently in planning or at scoping stage and ongoing pre-application discussions on a number of further proposals.”
(Quoted from: ‘Wind Energy in County Durham’, Presentation to Teesdale AAP, 23 March 2012, Durham County Council, Regeneration and Economic Development).
E.On UK have issued a press release regarding their Isles scheme, near Newton Aycliffe, claiming that:
“Originally the development was designed to feature up to 45 turbines and this has now been reduced by almost half to 24 turbines.”
E.On themselves originally stated that the size would be: “between 25 and 45 turbines”. We all know that wind developers struggle with mathematics, but since when was 24 “nearly half” of 25?
As well as PR games with numbers of turbines, E.On are claiming the usual exaggerated load factor for their project. Using the figures supplied in their press release, we calculate that they are claiming a ‘load factor’ (output as an average of headline capacity) of nearly 30%. This seems highly optimistic, considering the wind resource in the area.
See the ‘Isles’ campaign website for more information.
Peterlee Star, 28 March, 2012
‘People power won the day when a communications giant lost an appeal for a wind turbine to be built.
‘Members of Easington Village Parish Council and the village’s representative on Durham County Council, Councillor Dr David Boyes, are celebrating after BT Renewables’ plans to build the structure at Junction House Farm were thrown out at appeal stage.
‘Durham County Council’s planning committee had refused planning permission for the development, which included an “imposing” turbine with a 300ft-high blade, in October last year.
‘This was on the grounds that due to its location and scale, the project would have a significant visual impact on nearby residential properties.
‘The cumulative impact of the wind turbine when viewed alongside similar structures in the surrounding area was also taken into account.
Appeal Ref: APP/X1355/A/11/2164485 (decision letter).
Peterlee Star, 28 March, 2012
‘A PUBLIC meeting was held to co-ordinate an approach for how objections to a planned wind farm can be collated.
‘Around 70 people attended an informal drop-in session at Hesleden Community Centre regarding proposals to build a five-turbine wind farm at Sheraton, off the A19.
‘The purpose of the event, which was organised by Durham county councillor for Blackhall, Coun Rob Crute, and Lynda Wardle, Monk Hesleden Parish Council clerk, was to raise public awareness of the impact of the development on communities, including High Hesleden, Hesleden, Castle Eden and Hutton Henry.
‘Coun Crute said the event also aimed to encourage residents to write to the county council with their objections.
Northern Echo, 26 March 2012.
‘People who feared they would become surrounded by wind farms are celebrating after plans for turbines were refused.
‘Energy firm Wind Prospect wanted to build three 110- metre turbines at Foxton,County Durham – not far from land where controversial plans for what could be the country’s biggest wind farm have been put forward.
‘The Foxton plan, lodged with Durham County Council last year, is one of a number of similar wind farm projects in the area.
‘Campaigners who criticised the scheme said they felt that, if approved, it would mean the village would become an island surrounded by wind farms.
Teesdale Mercury, 22 February, 2012.
‘First there was Barningham, then Bolam. Now there is Hamsterley and Ponder Gill, near Barnard Castle. Wind farm proposals have dominated the local news in recent years, but one question remains unanwered – are they any good? For the first in two-part series, we speak to Professor David Campbell, an expert in the field who also happens to live near the proposed Hamsterley site.
‘There are many reasons to object to wind farm proposals I have not mentioned. But surely the fact that any such proposal cannot yield any of the claimed environmental benefits is enough. The real issue is not whether proposals like the Upper Gaunless wind farm should go ahead. It is how so completely defective a national and international policy could have been followed over the last 20 years, and how our Government can persist with it when doing so is outright irrational.’
Evening Gazette, 17 February, 2012
‘A Teesside MP has joined residents in East Cleveland in the fight against plans for the construction of eight wind turbines.
‘Redcar MP Ian Swales is backing the no campaigns for wind farms at both Beacon Moor between new Marske and Upleatham, and a proposed site between Marske and Saltburn.[Beacon Moor scheme now abandoned, Ed.]
Evening Gazette, 11 February, 2012.
‘Residents in East Cleveland have come together to fight plans to build eight wind turbines.
‘As previously reported, a 60m met mast has been installed to monitor wind conditions on Beacon Moor at the top of Errington Woods with a view to erecting four 115m wind turbines. [Beacon Moor scheme now abandoned, Ed.]
‘And now, a second application has been submitted to Redcar and Cleveland Council scoping opinion for another site between Marske and Saltburn.
Teesdale Mercury, 6 December, 2011
‘A plan to build a £12.5million wind farm in Teesdale is either facing refusal or significant planning delays.
‘Banks Renewables, which has submitted plans for five 115-metre turbines between village of Woodland and Hamsterley Forest, has been told that its survey work on wildlife is not up to scratch.
‘It is believed Grant Folley, a council planning officer, has now informed Banks that unless more work is done on the impact on birds and bats, the plan will be recommended for refusal.
The Advertiser, 20 October, 2011.
‘A SIX-TURBINE wind farm has been approved in the region.
‘Darlington Borough Council’s planning committee chairman Paul Baldwin used his casting vote to approve Banks Renewables’ plans for the wind farm, north-east of the town [Moor House, Barmpton].
Durham Tees Valley Airport had objected to the six 125m turbines but withdrew their objections on the morning of the meeting.
Durham County Council’s county planning committee has thrown out a controversial application (‘Junction House’) by BT for a 100m turbine on land off Pesspool lane, Easington Village.
The committee were told that the majority of people in the area were against the turbine and that the parish council opposed the scheme because of its impacts on listed buildings, including St Mary’s Church and the Seaton Holme conservation area.
Officers told the committee the county has exceeded its target for wind farms.
‘Turbine bid blown out’, Sunderland Echo, 5 october, 2011.
People in the communities surrounding E.ON’s bloated ‘Isles’ proposal have formed a campaign group to oppose the scheme.
E.ON are proposing to build twenty four 121m (396 ft) turbines on a low wind site which straddles the A1 motorway, close to Newton Aycliffe and .
Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson is also campaigning against the proposal, see below for more details.
On Thursday, 29 September the Isles campaign headlined on ‘Look North’ (not available on BBC i-player).
In the same programme, Chris Huhne, the former Energy Minister (awaiting trial in early October accused of perverting the course of justice), came out with his usual inane remarks comparing hundreds of 125m turbines to individual historic windmills a tenth of their size.
The programme pointed out that Durham has 16 operating wind power stations, with hundreds more turbines in prospect. They did not dwell on the fact that Mr Huhne’s county, Hampshire, has NOT ONE large industrial turbine. There is one small, historic windmill in Eastleigh, Mr Huhne’s constituency.
If Mr Huhne really regarded 125m turbines as, “the modern equivalent of a picturesque windmill”, might we suggest that he gets on TV in Hampshire to demand that a few hundred be built on the Hampshire Downs. Sadly, that might be the end of his now fading political ambitions!
The Isles communities campaign is also on Twitter.
Teesdale Mercury, 5 September, 2011
‘A renewable energy firm has admitted that competing developers rushing to build wind farms in County Durham may create an “unacceptable impact” on the countryside.
‘Banks Renewables, which has submitted plans for five 115-metre turbines between village of Woodland and Hamsterley Forest, made the statement to council officials.
Northern Echo, 9 August, 2011.
‘An MP will today launch a campaign aimed at stopping any further wind farms from being built in the region.
‘Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson is taking action after E.ON announced plans that could see England’s biggest wind farm built in his constituency.
‘The energy firm will launch a formal consultation on August 31, with three proposals to be considered – for either 29, 30 or 45 turbines – on a site east of Newton Aycliffe.
Stage One of E.ON’s consultation exercise started on 31 August and ended on 7 October, 2011.
(For further information about the proposal, call 0800 096 1199).
NB Members of the public can formally respond to the planning application when it is accepted by the IPC. E.ON’s response questionnaire is designed to assist their planning application, not the public.
An application for a development consent order is likely to be submitted to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) towards the end of 2012.
“The IPC was established on 1 October 2009 under the Planning Act 2008 to streamline the planning system for nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs)” [And wind turbine arrays with a headline capacity over 50MW, however®paltry their real output].
It can’t be said that E.ON do not learn lessons from their previous attempts to foist turbine parks on unwilling communities.
They are now careful to avoid holding consultation events in local village halls, as people have asked. In the past, communities have set up exit polls to properly record the views of every visitor to E.ON’s exhibitions. These have usually demonstrated the overwhelming opposition of visitors to their projects.
E.ON now choose venues in private spaces where they can deny community response groups access. The additional carbon burden of forcing people to travel does not seem to trouble them.
The company also tries to weight responses by involving major settlements distant from the site. We have been told that some people living close to the site have not received consultation documents from E.ON while they have been widely distributed in large communities 10 miles away.
Isles Communities Action Campaign.
E.ON UK website.
Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) - Isles application page.
Phil Wilson’s Parliamentary Petition against the Isles proposal. Details on his website.
‘Fight vow as wind farm plan unveiled’, Northern Echo, 9 August, 2011.
‘Councils unite to oppose Sedgefield wind farm’, Northern Echo, 28 July, 2011.
‘Concern over potential wind farm in Newton Aycliffe’, BBC News, 26 April, 2011.
‘David Cameron agrees to Newton Aycliffe wind farm talks’, BBC News, 27 April, 2011.
‘New fears over wind farm plan’, Northern Echo, 2 June, 2011.
‘Residents meet Minister over plans for England's biggest windfarm’, Northern Echo, 17 June, 2011.
Banks Renewables, part of the coal mining, property and waste group, have lodged a planning application for their ‘Windy Bank’ scheme bordering Hamsterley Forest, close to the village of Woodland.
The proposal is for five 115m turbines.
The application documents may be viewed online.
Another proposals at Crake Scar, immediately adjacent to Windy Bank, has been dropped. A proposal at West Shipley is at the pre-application stage.
Application Ref. No. CMA/6/48 - see planning website.
Hamsterley & Upper Gaunless Action Group - HUGAG website.
‘Row as wind farm firm offers cash for local projects’, Teesdale Mercury, 1 August, 2011.
‘Village votes no to threat of turbines’, Teesdale Mercury, 12 July, 2011.
‘Pure Renewable Energy’ has approval to erect a 50 metre anemometer mast on land at West Shipley near Hamsterley.1
This is the precursor to yet another turbine array proposal on the edge of the Hamsterley Forest.
Banks Renewables recently lodged a planning application for five 115m turbines near the village of Woodend, on the southern edge of the forest.2
ELECTRICITY GENERATIONU.K. National Grid Status