Plans stalled for wind turbine at beauty spot

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CITY councillors are yet to sign an agreement over controversial proposals to build a wind turbine at Tunstall Hills in Sunderland.

Information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by objectors reveals the council has not yet signed an “option agreement” with contractor Partnership for Renewals (PfR).

When signed, the agreement would give PfR three years to carry out surveys before submitting any planning application.

Senior councillors opted to go into the agreement in February last year, after a report was made to the council’s cabinet.

But so far it has not been signed off, with delays put down to the decision to carry out a “fresh internal review”, looking at issues including the impact on wildlife and the location of the site.

It was also revealed that immediately following the council’s decision, PfR decided to look at erecting a second turbine at a site in Hetton Lyons country park.

This change had to be agreed by the council and was endorsed in September 2011.

Campaigner Allan White, of Tunstall Hills Protection Group, said one of members’ main worries was that a wind turbine would ruin the Hills, which are a popular spot for walkers.

“Most people who use the Hills are probably unaware of the botany and the bird life and its geologically importance, but are aware of how important it is for their own peace and tranquillity,” he said.

“The views are stunning. You can see down to the North York Moors and up to the Cheviots.

“With a 125-metre wind turbine in the way, the view to the North York Moors will be completely blocked.”

Sunderland City Council has previously said there is no proposal as such to build wind turbines at the country park or Tunstall Hills, but confirmed the areas are the subject of “feasibility studies”.

Janet Johnson, deputy chief executive, said: “The council is reviewing all its options on sites identified by PfR.

“The review is expected to be concluded later this year.”

Twitter: @janethejourno