A YORK MP has accused council bosses of failing to follow planning laws over potential schemes to build wind turbines in countryside near the city.

"Screening opinions" have been sent to City of York Council to decide whether studies of how masts at Murton Moor and Kexby would affect their surroundings environment are needed before full planning applications can be submitted.

The authority has said this will be not be needed for the Murton Moor site - where a turbine higher than York Minster could be built - but York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said he believed the council had made a mistake by reasoning that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was only required for schemes with five or more masts.

He said EIAs had been necessary for single-turbine projects in other parts of the UK, and the need for them depended on issues such as size, location and the likely impact on the environment, rather than simply the number of turbines.

The Kexby turbine planned for My House Farm, near the A1079, would be 50 metres high, with its blade tips reaching 77 metres. Mr Sturdy said: "I am very concerned to learn the council may have failed to follow the appropriate guidance on these screening opinions for wind turbines in York's green belt.

"EIAs are an important means of scrutinising applications and I am frustrated the developer has managed to skip an important hurdle in their quest for a turbine at Murton Moor. I sincerely hope the council will review its position ahead of the Kexby proposal."

Mike Slater, the council's assistant director of city and environmental services, said the council had "complied with the appropriate legislation" in both cases, and the environmental effects of the Murton Moor proposal were not considered "significant" enough to warrant an EIA.

He said an EIA was not needed for every wind turbine scheme, but said: "Even if an EIA is not required, the council would still require all environmental impacts to be addressed if a planning application is subsequently submitted.

"The final decision would have regard to all material planning considerations and would include an assessment of the environmental impact of the proposal."