Fears are growing that swathes of County Durham countryside will be filled by one of the country’s biggest wind farms.
Energy firm E.on has proposed a scheme with up to 45 turbines near Newton Aycliffe. If it goes ahead, it could be one of the largest onshore farms in England.
This week the company began a public consultation on the plans, which could generate enough electricity to power 53,000 homes a year.
The farm, called The Isles, is planned for a 7.5 square mile site east of Newton Aycliffe.
The company has produced three potential layouts for 25-45 turbines, which replace previous plans to build a smaller farm, the A1 Wind Farm, in the area.
Turbines could be built on both sides of the A1 within just a few miles of rural communities at Chilton, Bradbury, Mordon, Great Stainton, Rushyford, Elstob and Preston-le-Skerne.
E.on has promised a community benefits fund worth up to £460,000 per year to support local projects throughout the lifetime of the wind farm.
Hundreds of people have raised concerns over the plans, which they say would destroy miles of Durham’s countryside.
Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson, who has launched a Parliamentary Petition against the farm, says the North East already has its fair share of turbines.
“If this plan goes ahead, it will cover 5% of the land in Sedgefield ward,” he said.
“It will be the first thing people will see when they come into County Durham on the A1 or East Coast Main Line.
“This is a re-industrialisation of the landscape but without the promise of jobs.
“Durham and Northumberland have already played their part in renewables – it is time for other areas of the country to share the burden.”
Although a planning application hasn’t yet been submitted, E.on is holding a series of public consultations. Paul Hunt, project manager for company, said: “Now is the time to give us your views on this development.
“We understand the concerns of communities close to any potential development site and we’re working very hard to factor all feedback into our overall proposal. We consider ourselves to be a very responsible developer.”
E.on hopes to have an application ready to go before the Infrastructure Planning Commission, the independent body for large-scale projects, next year.
The formal stage one consultation runs until October 7 and people can submit their views at www.eon-uk.com/theisles, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling 0800 096 1199, or by writing to The Isles Wind Farm, Freepost RRSE-KZCU-AZJL, E.on, Westwood Business Park, Westwood Way, Coventry, CV4 8LG.
There will also be public meetings at The Xcel Centre, Aycliffe Business Park, on September 8, 1-8pm; Sedgefield Racecourse on September 9, 1-8pm; and Chilton and Windlestone Working Men’s Club, Chilton, on September 10, 9-2pm.
E.on is providing free transport to the Sedgefield event for residents of Bradbury, Mordon and Great Stainton.