The report is to inform Members of the recent decisions by the Secretaries of State for Communities and Local Government and Energy and Climate Change on the Steadings

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The report is to inform Members of the recent decisions by the Secretaries of State for Communities and Local Government and Energy and Climate Change on the Steadings Powered By Docstoc
					Central Planning and Environment Committee
Date: 1 June 2010



Steadings, Ray Estate and Green Rigg windfarm developments
decisions

Report of the Executive Director of Place



Purpose of Report.

The report is to inform Members of the recent decisions by the Secretaries of
State for Communities and Local Government and Energy and Climate
Change on the Steadings, Ray Estate and Green Rigg windfarm
developments following the Public Inquiry which took place in 2008 and to
advise of the possible implications of the decision.

Recommendations

It is recommended that:

   1. Members note the content of the report and the potential
      implications of the decisions of the two Secretaries of States as
      set out in the report

Key issues

   1. The significant weight attached by both Secretaries of State in the
      planning balance to the need for and the wider benefits of wind energy
      developments reflects the Government’s commitment to tackling
      climate change issues and to significantly increase the proportion of
      the UK’s energy which is generated by renewable sources

   2. Careful consideration must be given to the conclusions of the two
      Secretaries of State’s in particular in respect of landscape and visual
      impact, cumulative impact, impact on cultural heritage, noise impacts
      and aviation issues and the potential implication of these conclusions
      for the consideration of other windfarm proposals in Northumberland.
Steadings, Ray Estate and Green Rigg windfarm developments
decisions

BACKGROUND

   1. The decisions by the Secretaries of State for Communities and Local
      Government (CLG) and Energy and Climate Change (ECC) on the
      Steadings, Ray Estate and Green Rigg windfarm developments were
      released on 25 March 2010.

   2. The proposed Steadings and Ray Estate windfarm developments were
      both the subject of applications to the Secretary of State for Energy
      and Climate Change for consent under section 36 of the Electricity Act
      1989 as both were for developments over 50 MW in capacity.
      Objections lodged by the former Tynedale District Council to the
      proposed Steadings windfarm and by the former Tynedale District
      Council and Northumberland County Council to the proposed Ray
      Estate windfarm triggered the requirement for a Public Inquiry in each
      case. The developers for the proposed Green Rigg windfarm, Wind
      Prospect, subsequently lodged an appeal against the former Tynedale
      District Council under section 78 of the Town and Country Planning Act
      1990. A conjoined Public Inquiry into all three developments took
      place at Newcastle Airport during 2008. The Inquiry opened in January
      2008 and was closed in December 2008, sitting for a total of 63 days.

   3. The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change refused
      consent for the proposed Steadings windfarm and is minded to grant
      consent for the proposed Ray Estate windfarm. The Secretary of State
      for Communities and Local Government granted planning permission
      for the proposed Green Rigg windfarm.

THE CONCLUSIONS OF THE SECRETARIES OF STATE

Steadings (Steadings Windfarm Ltd):
22 wind turbines and associated infrastructure and services (66 MW)

   1. In respect of the Steadings development, the Secretary of State agreed
      with the Inspector’s conclusions in all respects other than in relation to
      the mitigation of adverse impacts on the aviation interests of Newcastle
      Airport (NIAL) and National Air Traffic Services (En-Route) Ltd (NERL).

   2. In particular the Secretary of State noted the Inspector’s findings of
      adverse impacts of the development on the landscape framework of
      the Great Bavington Conservation Area and the setting of St Aiden’s
      Church, Throckington and of adverse cumulative landscape impacts
      which would arise if the development was added to Green Rigg and
      Ray. The Secretary of State considered that in view of these impacts
      it would not be appropriate to grant consent to the development
      notwithstanding the potential benefits which the development would
      bring, notably in terms of renewable electricity generation.


   3. The Secretary of State reached a different conclusion to the Inspector
      regarding the mitigation of adverse impacts on the aviation interests of
      NIAL and NERL. In this respect he concluded that as a result of new
      evidence about the development of Raytheon technology it would be
      appropriate to impose a Grampian condition to secure the mitigation of
      aviation impacts. Notwithstanding his conclusions on this issue the
      Secretary of State considered that the weight to be given to the
      adverse impacts referred to in para 2 above was such that consent
      should not be granted for the development.


Ray Estate (Amec Project Investments Ltd):
20 turbines and associated infrastructure and services, including 4 temporary
borrow pits and 14 KM of site access road (60 MW)

   1. The Inspector’s main recommendations in respect of the Ray Estate
      development were as set out below:

             Although there would be some significant effects on landscape
              character type and visual impact these would be limited and not
              unduly harmful. The proposal by virtue of its location, scale and
              visual impact would not result in serious harm to the character
              and sensitivity of the surrounding landscape.

             In terms of cumulative impact the Ray development would be
              acceptable with either Green Rigg or Steadings but the addition
              of both Ray and Steadings to Green Rigg would be
              unacceptable.

             The proposed development would not have a significant adverse
              impact on cultural heritage assets.

             There were proposals to mitigate the adverse impacts on
              aviation interests but the technology for these was uncertain and
              in the course of development. There was a risk that the granting
              of an unimplementable consent could impede other suitable
              schemes coming forward.

             There was no material conflict with the development plan as a
              whole. However in the light of the outstanding aviation issue the
              Inspector recommended refusal of the development.

   2. The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector’s conclusions and
      recommendations other than in respect of the imposition of a Grampian
      condition concerning mitigation of impacts on the operations of NERL
      and NIAL. On this issue taking into account new evidence that had
      come to light about the development of Raytheon technology he
      concluded that it would be appropriate to impose a Grampian condition
      to secure the mitigation of aviation impacts.

   3. On this basis and taking into account that he was minded to refuse
      consent for the Steadings development the Secretary of State
      concluded that the planning balance weighed in favour of granting
      consent for the proposed Ray development. The decision was a
      ‘minded to grant consent’ decision subject to notification in writing to
      the persons appearing at the Inquiry of his disagreement with the
      Inspector’s recommendations and to affording them an opportunity to
      make written representations to him or of asking for the re-opening of
      the Inquiry. This was due to the Secretary of State taking into account
      new evidence or matters of fact in relation to the new Raytheon radar
      not available to the Inquiry in relation to the new


Green Rigg (Wind Prospect Developments Ltd):
18 wind turbines and associated infrastructure and services

   1. In respect of the Green Rigg development the Secretary of State
      agreed with the Inspector’s conclusions and recommendations. He
      concluded the following:

             that having regard to the character and sensitivity of the
              surrounding landscape overall the proposal by virtue of its
              location, scale and visual impact and that the Green Rigg
              proposal would be acceptable cumulatively with either the Ray
              or Steadings developments but not both;

             that noise could be adequately controlled by conditions;

             that no material adverse impacts would arise in respect of the
              cultural heritage assets in the general locality of the proposed
              windfarm;

             that the proposal would not result in material adverse impacts on
              the MoD’s interests, that a Grampian condition could be
              imposed to secure mitigation in regard to NERL’s operations
              and that there would be limited impacts on NIAL’s operations.

   2. The Secretary of State attached significant weight to the wider
      environmental and economic benefits of the scheme and to national
      energy policies and concluded that in the planning balance the factors
      which weighed in favour of the development outweighed any identified
      harm.
IMPLICATIONS OF THE DECISIONS

   1. These are significant decisions for Northumberland in terms of wind
      energy developments. The outcome of the Public Inquiry into the
      Steadings, Ray Estate and Green Rigg windfarm developments raises
      a number of issues which are relevant for the determination of other
      windfarm proposals in Northumberland.

   2. In particular, as with the recent Berwick windfarm appeal decisions the
      significant weight attached by the Scretaries of State in the planning
      balance to the need for and the wider benefits of wind energy
      developments should be noted and taken into account in the
      consideration of future windfarm proposals. This is in line with the
      statements and commitments set out in the Climate Change Act2008
      and the Renewable Energy Strategy (RES) 2009 in respect of the need
      to significantly increase the proportion of the UK’s energy which is
      generated by renewable sources. Careful consideration should also be
      given to the comments made by both Secretaries of State in respect of
      the substantial shortfall which existed at the time of the Inquiry between
      Northumberland’s targets for wind energy development and its
      predicted installed capacity for 2010. In this respect Members should
      be mindful of the target of 30% of all energy generated by renewable
      energy as set out in the UK Renewable Energy Strategy 2009.

   3. Careful consideration will also have to be given by Officers and
      Members to the conclusions of the Inspector and the two Secretaries of
      State in respect of landscape and visual impact, cumulative impact,
      impact on cultural heritage, noise impacts and aviation issues in
      respect of the three windfarm proposals. These conclusions, and the
      assessments which informed them, will assist in the assessment of
      current and future windfarm proposals by the Council. In particular any
      further representations made by NIAL and / or NERL on the aviation
      issues relating to the Ray windfarm proposal and the Secretary of
      State’s response to these will be pertinent to a number of current
      applications before the Council.

BACKGROUND PAPERS

Decision letters of the Secretaries of State for Communities and Local
Government; and Energy and Climate Change dated 25 March 2010 and
Report to the Secretaries of State for Communities and Local Government;
and Energy and Climate Change dated 27 November 2009.

IMPLICATIONS ARISING OUT OF THE REPORT

      Policy:                         None

      Finance     and    value   for None
      money
     Human Resources:            None

     Property                    None
     Equalities                  None
     Risk Assessment             None

     Crime & Disorder            None
     Customer Considerations:    Officers and members will need to ensure that
                                 the decisions and the conclusions of the two
                                 Secretaries of State on the Green Rigg, Ray
                                 Estate and Steadings windfarm developments
                                 are taken into account in the consideration of
                                 other windfarm applications in Northumberland
                                 to ensure consistency of decision making.
     Consultation                None
     Sustainability Principles   None
     Wards                       All




Report Author:   Karen Ledger, Interim Head of Development
Management (01670) 534052 Karen.ledger@northumberland.gov.uk

				
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