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CPRE Northumberland

Local Plan update, August 2020

The Cheviots from Hepburn Crags The Cheviots from Hepburn Crags © Don Brownlow

The Northumberland Local Plan's Examination-in-Public is to receive a further session of public hearings in October.

The Inspectors who conducted the EiP starting in October 2019, and continuing in February of this year, made a number of requests and suggestions to NCC for more information about the Draft Plan. The matters to be discussed include the Green Belt boundaries revised by NCC around a number of settlements within the additional areas stretching north of Morpeth and west of Hexham. At the same time the sessions will consider the many requests from interested parties (landowners and developers) for specific sites to be removed from the proposed Green Belt.

Council planners have published their response to the Inspector's requirements, and a consultation is underway

In the Draft Plan, CPRE Northumberland found much to support, especially in the detailed concerns expressed for the environment, with policies to protect the tranquillity of the countryside and dark skies. Housing numbers have been realistically revised to take account of recent figures for population growth, so that it has not been deemed necessary to make any further inroads into the Green Belt, which is at last to be extended to the north and west of Morpeth.

However, while we noted that the National Park and AONBs (the North Northumberland Coast and the Pennines) were left free of wind farms, we took issue over the County Council's decision to declare extensive areas of the rest of the county as 'potentially suitable for wind turbines up to 40 metres'. This means that many of our most spectacular landscapes - as seen from popular viewpoints from the Wannies to the Kyloe hills - could be blighted by turbines up to 130 feet high in future. We have cooperated with the Northumberland and Newcastle Society over past consultations, and again their professionally advised representation on policy REN 2 and the map of areas deemed suitable for turbines up to 40 metres was thoroughly argued and we were happy to co-sign it.

We also made a number of representations of our own, mostly on technical issues relating to employment land, figures for jobs growth, housing needs in different delivery areas of the county, a joint review of the Tyne and Wear Green Belt by all the Local Authorities involved, lapsed planning consents - and finally, based on the correction of what we believe to be misleading figures for the mineral aggregates needed for building during the life of the Plan, we argued that there was no need to open the two 'preferred sites' in the Tyne Valley at West Warmley and Anick Grange Haugh.

We wait to see if the Plan is required to undergo any further modifications before we can all begin to benefit from a consistent county-wide Local Plan with clear policies to protect what we in CPRE Northumberland believe to be the county's greatest asset - its wealth of unspoilt, beautiful countryside and coast, with many heritage features adding character and intrigue to our precious landscapes.

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