Councillors in Northumberland have turned down plans by local firm Borderwind for a small wind project near Hexham Castle. Morpeth Borough Council's planning committee voted decisively to refuse permission for three 600 kW turbines at Kirkheaton. The committee was concerned about the visual impact of the turbines which would be visible from Hadrian's Wall -- a world heritage site. Yet council officers had advised that the project met local planning guidelines, would be assimilated into the wider landscape and any effects were outweighed by the national need for clean energy. English Heritage, which administers Hadrian's Wall six miles from the proposed site, had raised no objections. Borderwind is to appeal against the decision, but the company's Bill Grainger complains that a planning inquiry will add an extra £20,000-30,000 to the costs of the project. He claims the UK planning system penalises small projects. "We had to supply as much information with this application as we would have if we were building a 30 turbine wind farm." Moreover, the appeal will delay the scheme for another year on top of the four to five years it has taken to get this far. "It is a nightmare for a small project-based company like us."
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