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Battle lines drawn at pre-enquiry hearing into wind farm proposals

Planning Inspector Ruth MacKenzie opened the meeting by reiterating the fact that the final decision on the three wind farm appeals for Moorsyde, Toft Hill and Barmoor will be taken by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears MP, after the decision was 'recovered' in August last year. Ms MacKenzie said the Secretary of State's intervention came because the proposals were "of major significance for the delivery of the Government's climate change programme and energy policies."

About 150 people attended a wind farm pre-inquiry meeting in The Maltings on Monday, showing the strength of local feeling on the issue.

Planning Inspector Ruth MacKenzie opened the meeting by reiterating the fact that the final decision on the three wind farm appeals for Moorsyde, Toft Hill and Barmoor will be taken by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears MP, after the decision was 'recovered' in August last year.

Ms MacKenzie said the Secretary of State's intervention came because the proposals were "of major significance for the delivery of the Government's climate change programme and energy policies."

The pre-inquiry meeting sought to make arrangements for the inquiry proper, which will begin on May 6 and is scheduled to sit for 16 days over a period of five weeks.

Advocates for the appellants, Catamount Energy (Barmoor), Moorsyde Wind Farm and npower (Toft Hill), attended the meeting, along with an advocate for Berwick Borough Council and for Save Our Unspoilt Landscape (SOUL), plus representatives of Moorsyde Action Group (MAG) and Inappropriate Siting of Renewable Energy Structures (ISORES).

Financial constraints on the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

About 150 people attended a wind farm pre-inquiry meeting in The Maltings on Monday, showing the strength of local feeling on the issue.

Planning Inspector Ruth MacKenzie opened the meeting by reiterating the fact that the final decision on the three wind farm appeals for Moorsyde, Toft Hill and Barmoor will be taken by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears MP, after the decision was 'recovered' in August last year.

Ms MacKenzie said the Secretary of State's intervention came because the proposals were "of major significance for the delivery of the Government's climate change programme and energy policies."

The pre-inquiry meeting sought to make arrangements for the inquiry proper, which will begin on May 6 and is scheduled to sit for 16 days over a period of five weeks.

Advocates for the appellants, Catamount Energy (Barmoor), Moorsyde Wind Farm and npower (Toft Hill), attended the meeting, along with an advocate for Berwick Borough Council and for Save Our Unspoilt Landscape (SOUL), plus representatives of Moorsyde Action Group (MAG) and Inappropriate Siting of Renewable Energy Structures (ISORES).

Financial constraints on the 'Rule Six' parties, SOUL, MAG and ISORES, were made clear at the meeting, as Mike Maud, chairman of MAG, urged the planning inspector to consider the organisation of the inquiry so as expert witnesses and the legal teams for the 'Rule Six' parties could appear at one time, to save them having to appear over the 16 days, and therefore keep costs down.

The three opposition groups, as 'Rule Six' parties, have the right to be represented by their own barristers and consultants, call expert witnesses and also cross-examine witnesses put forward by the appellants.

Mr Maud asked if the appellants would fly blimps at the height of the proposed turbines at the Moorsyde site when the planning inspector makes her site visits.

He said this would allow 'full appreciation of the extent of the turbines,' and added that this measure should be at the cost of the appellants.

David Hardy, advocate for npower responded: "No. It is unrepresentative and it has been unrepresentative in the decision-making process."

Marcus Trinick, Catamount Energy's advocate, said that his clients would have no problem with blimps being flown at Barmoor, but added that it should be at the cost of the relevant opposition groups to do so, and that they would need permission from the land owners, the Civil Aviation Authority and relevant insurance also.

Advocate for Moorsyde Wind Farm, Elizabeth Dunn, said blimps would not help in showing how the proposed turbines would look.

All three appellants have said they will call expert witnesses to discuss landscape and visual amenity and planning policy, however npower have also said they will call a witness on cultural heritage and possibly on noise.

Moorsyde Wind Farm officials have said they may also call a witness to talk on tourism.

Berwick Borough Council will have witnesses on planning evidence, landscape and archaeology, and possibly tourism.

A witness will appear for MAG to talk on landscape, while SOUL will call witnesses on planning policy, landscape, tourism, cultural heritage and possibly noise.

ISORES confirmed to the inspector that they intend to have witnesses on landscape, cultural heritage, planning policy, tourism, and possibly renewable energy and noise.

The inquiry itself begins on Wednesday, May 6, at 10am in The Maltings.


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FEB 11 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/19040-battle-lines-drawn-at-pre-enquiry-hearing-into-wind-farm-proposals
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