Belford residents have vowed to fight proposals for yet another wind farm in the area, after 99 per cent of those who attended the public exhibition voted against the latest plans.
Villagers gained an insight into the potential nine-turbine Belford Burn development at consultation evenings earlier this week when staff from the British office of German development company EnergieKontor were on hand at Belford First School to answer queries at the public exhibition.
But many residents were left less than impressed. More than 98 per cent of attendees registered their views in an exit poll. 99.41 per cent of voters were against the proposals, with just one person undecided.
Chris Craddock is chair of the Middleton Burn Action Group (MBAG) which was set up last year to fight proposals for the 16 turbine Middleton Burn development adjacent to the Belford Burn site.
Speaking at the exhibition on Monday, he said: “It appears to me that the people who came here from EnergieKontor are unable to answer simple questions relating to the benefits that this project is set to bring to the local community.”
EnergieKontor UK Ltd propose to erect nine 100 metre-high engines at Sionside Farm, on land adjacent to the Middleton Burn site, just north of Belford Moor.
EnergieKontor estimates that Belford Burn wind farm could produce enough green electricity each year to supply more than 11,000 homes in the former Berwick-upon-Tweed district.
As well as the nine industrial engines, the development would also include transformer kiosks, access tracks, a control building and an electricity substation.
Michael Briggs, project manager for Belford Burn wind farm, said that there was no set time scale, but that the company could submit a formal planning application by the end of the year.
He said: “You never know what is going to come out of public exhibitions – we’re here to find out what the public think and the issues they raise we will take away and consider.
“It’s still very flexible at the moment in terms of a time scale but we will possibly submit a planning application to Northumberland County Council by the end of the year.”
The Belford Burn plans come hot on the heals of a previous separate proposal from Air Farmers Ltd, who wants to site 16 125-metre high turbines at Swinhoe Farm.
The Middleton Burn Action Group will fight both the Belford Burn and Middleton Burn developments under the banner “Stop the rot”.
Mr Craddock said: “We oppose any wind farm in the Belford area because we do not think Belford is an appropriate place for them.”
He said the area would be “devastated” during the months of construction, that the turbines would be visible for miles around and that they would damage the local tourism industry.
EnergieKontor UK insists there is no evidence that wind farms impact tourism.
But Mr Craddock said: “My feeling is that people come here for a particular reason – a lot of them are walkers who want peace and tranquillity, not 100 metre-high industrial turbines.
“Tourism is the second most important industry in Northumberland and possibly the most important in Belford. In this village there are hotels and bed and breakfasts that I think would suffer.
“I fear that the people who come to enjoy the countryside will no longer enjoy it and therefore won’t come here – that will effect the village, the community and the local economy.”