THE proposals for a wind farm in South Durham announced this week are on a scale far beyond anything the county has so far seen.
If 45 wind turbines are built on the gently undulating farmland north and east of Newton Aycliffe, it will be England’s biggest onshore wind farm, easily dwarfing the other collections of wind turbines of which the county already has a fine array.
An indication of how high the stakes are for the potential developer, E.ON, is the sweetener being offered to the local community if the development gets the go-ahead in some form. More than £450,000 a year for 25 years is a lot of village hall improvements, sports equipment and other community benefits in a part of the world not particularly well blessed with those sorts of facilities.
The landscape in this part of the county is not of high value in a formal sense. It enjoys no special protection.
The debate is, therefore, likely to be centred on the effectiveness of land-based turbines and whether intervention in the energy market has rigged it in favour of a technology which critics say is fundamentally flawed.
If E.ON wins the debate in South Durham, County Durham will become the wind turbine capital of the UK.