Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wind Blow

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wind Blow

Article excerpt

Byline: By Daniel Cochlin

A tiny North community is planning to defy the Government ( because they claim their opinions are being cast to the wind.

Belford Parish Council, in Northumberland, believes it is being "gagged" after councillors were told they could not comment on a controversial wind farm application because of Government rules.

In January, parish and district councils wrote to the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister stating their unanimous opposition to a plan to build 18 huge turbines at Middlemoor, off the A1 north of Alnwick.

The following month, they wanted to talk about another application, at Barmoor, but were told not to by planning solicitors.

Berwick Borough Council monitoring officer Liam Henry told them: "Given the strength of your comments in the [Middlemoor] letter and the reference to other applications it would be difficult, if not impossible, I believe, for the Parish Council to objectively consider any

subsequent application for a wind farm."

But defiant councillors unanimously decided to continue fighting wind farms in the area.

More than 150 giant turbines could be erected if all the applications in Northumberland get the go ahead ( and over 400 in the North-East as a whole.

Last night the planning rules governing wind farms were branded "absurd" and a breach of free speech.

By standing up to the Government's Code of Conduct, issued by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in 2001, the councillors face suspension or even dismissal by even discussing the Barmoor plan.

Belford Parish Councillor Geoff O'Connell believes the code would not allow the elected representatives to do their job.

He said: "We have had our hands tied and been told to shut up.

"This goes far beyond any prejudicial issue, it is an attempt to gag us.

"We can't see any reason to obey a code which flies in the face of the right of free speech, so we resolved to express the views of our community. …

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