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CPRE Northumberland

Local Plan update, April 2019

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

A second consultation, on the Pre-publication Draft Northumberland Local Plan, ended in March. 

Revisions to the Draft Plan have, on the whole, been few, mostly matters of wording (some suggested by us). In this last stage of consultation we were invited to check the Draft Plan for anything we believe to be 'unsound', and which might therefore cause the Plan to fail its Examination-in-Public.

In the first 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 '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.

It will be interesting to see if the Plan undergoes any modification before submission in May of this year for examination in the autumn.

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