Fury over school’s wind turbine plan

Protesters from Cranberry Drive and the surrounding areas of Washington who are against a wind chime being erected at Fatfield.
Protesters from Cranberry Drive and the surrounding areas of Washington who are against a wind chime being erected at Fatfield.
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A ROW has blown up over a school’s controversial plans to build a 140ft wind turbine.

St Robert of Newminster RC School, in Biddick Lane, Fatfield, Washington, is seeking planning permission to erect a three-bladed turbine, which is expected to last 25 years, on adjacent playing fields.

Electricity generated would be used by the school in a bid to cut bills, with surplus power sold to the national grid for distribution to consumers. Nearby Biddick School is also set to benefit from electricity produced.

But the proposals have angered some householders who live near the site.

John Haynes, 69, of Cranberry Drive, is one of several residents who live close to the school and have lodged formal objections to the development.

“The majority of residents are only just finding out about this proposal,” said the dad-of-two. “It’s patently obvious that because of the nature of the structure – the mass, the immense size and the proposed positioning among houses, schools, playing fields, a busy trunk road and junction – that this will be a cause for major contention.” The retired human resources manager said there were also concerns about noise, safety and possible effects on house prices.

“None of the residents like the idea of having a wind turbine on their doorstep and none know of any other wind turbine that has been erected in such a position previously,” said Mr Haynes.

“All are erected well away from housing, which begs the question is this a test case?

“Once one is erected, will they appear all over the city?”

Ann Robinson, 60, of Crindledykes, said: “I have never felt so strongly about anything in my life. A lot of people on this estate are retired or are approaching retirement and this is the last thing they need.

“Wind turbines should not be placed in communities.”

Residents are putting together a petition against the plans.

The application is expected to be heard by Sunderland City Council’s planning committee in the coming weeks.

Keith Lowes, the council’s head of planning and environment, said: “There is a current planning application for a proposed wind turbine to be built on playing fields at land adjacent to St Robert of Newminster School in Washington which has been publicised in the normal way. The last date for the receipt of representations is February 28 and all responses received will be carefully considered.

“The scheme has been developed over a period of time and in consultation with the schools. The planning application for a wind turbine with a maximum tip height of 45 metres, has followed extensive feasibility work to find the most appropriate sites.

“The wind turbine if installed, as well as generating energy from renewable sources would reduce electricity bills for both schools. The schools would also benefit from additional income generated from the surplus electricity which is supplied to the national grid.

“The project has been funded by Sunderland City Council’s Strategic Investment Plan and the Government’s Department for Education as part of the regional and national approach to develop low carbon schools, subject to the outcome of the planning application process.”