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Wind farm campaigners hit out at 'last gasp PR fiasco'


CAMPAIGNERS have dismissed the decision to reduce the size of the proposed Moorsyde wind farm as ‘a last gasp PR fiasco’.

Wind farm developer Your Energy has reduced the number of proposed turbines from 14 to 10, removing the two at the far west of the site, and the two closest to Shoresdean.

Don Brownlow, a member of Moorsyde Action Group (MAG) said: “Your Energy’s decision to axe four turbines from the ‘Moorsyde’ scheme is a belated attempt to save this flawed proposal from rejection by the planners.

“While other developers in the area have proposals for six, seven or nine turbines and have been willing to at least listen to concerns about siting, Your Energy have refused to discuss their scheme with local people. MAG welcomes a cut in the numbers of turbines, but considers that it does not change the basic design of this project and would have only a minor effect on its impacts. Ten 360 ft. turbines would still dominate surrounding communities, tourist routes and views to the Cheviots.

“The company have recently been distributing freepost response cards with a leaflet that stated, ‘it is vital for everyone in the community, to know the facts’.

“This leaflet contained maps, output figures and numerous other ‘facts’ that the company knew to be wrong, as they were preparing new maps and photomontages relating to the cut in turbine numbers for delivery to the planners while they were sending out this false prospectus for their scheme.

“Because of their history of failure to consult local communities, MAG recently described this leaflet as a ‘last ditch PR stunt’. We would withdraw that phrase, this isn’t a ‘last ditch PR stunt’, it’s a ‘last gasp PR fiasco’.”

However, Your Energy described the change as ‘significant’ and said it would help the council make ‘a swift and positive decision’ on the project, which is due to go to committee later this year.

Richard Mardon, managing director of Your Energy, said: “The removal of the four turbines will reduce the visual impact of the project, minimise the impact on landscape character and cultural heritage, whilst still providing substantial benefits in terms of the supply of clean, renewable energy to between 10,500 and 12,500 households.”

Your Energy have submitted additional photomontage illustrating the change in visual impact from four viewpoints. These are available to view at Berwick Borough Council offices, or on the company’s website, www.your-energy.co.uk

Project manager Matt Kelly said: “The reduction of turbines will also have a significant positive effect on the view from Duddo Stones; which was an important concern raised during consultation.”

Meanwhile it has emerged that another wind farm development is in the pipeline at Murton Crags, just behind Longridge Towers School and three miles from Berwick. RES (Renewable Energy Systems) are in the preliminary stages of developing a scheme for ten 120m turbines.

Mr Brownlow said: “This is further evidence of the Klondike windrush in the Borough. The situation is rapidly getting out of control, with developers desperately trying to stake a claim almost anywhere where they can find a compliant landowner. It really is time that the politicians and strategic planning authorities acted to set some limits to the activities of speculative wind power developers who are not only blighting communities, preventing investment in tourist businesses and putting the local planning authorities under intolerable strain but who are also bringing the whole renewables agenda into disrepute.”

RES, who had not responded to enquiries at the time of going to press, completely or part own 12 wind farms in the UK, Republic of Ireland and France. They also have five currently under construction, including that at Black Hill near Duns. Companies in the group have been involved in the construction of about 35 wind farms in the UK and Ireland, France, Portugal and the US.

There are currently two applications for wind farms in Berwick Borough, Moorsyde and nearby Barmoor, as well as one just into Alnwick District at Middlemoor. There are also firm proposals for Toft Hill, just to the east of Moorsyde; Wandylaw, to the north of Middlemoor; and Moneylaws near Branxton; while scoping is taking place at Bewick Moor.

e-mail: thomasbaldwin@tweeddalepress.co.uk