A cash-strapped council could help to ease its financial problems by offering land it owns to wind farm developers.
Northumberland County Council is considering joining the rush to erect wind turbines by promoting the use of its own land assets for the generation of renewable energy.
Senior officers say the move would demonstrate the council’s commitment to green energy and raise income.
Land in the seaside village of Cambois near Bedlington has been earmarked as a potential site for two wind turbines.
The move comes as campaigners in rural areas of the county battle plans by wind energy companies for scores of turbines on exposed moorlands.
The county council’s executive will be asked on Monday to agree in principle to using its land assets for green energy production – and hold talks with wind turbine developers to maximise potential income.
Agricultural land in Cambois – which already has two offshore wind turbines and a wind farm in nearby Blyth Harbour – has been identified by developers as potentially suitable for two turbines producing electricity for the national grid.
Cambois Community Association chairman Les Paton said yesterday: “I have heard nothing about this possibility and we would want to find out more about what is proposed. The two offshore turbines have not turned a blade for more than a year because of problems and are just eyesores standing there doing nothing. Personally I have no problem with wind turbines, but I can’t speak for everyone else in the village.”
In a report to Monday’s meeting, deputy chief executive Jill Dixon admits the council risks adverse public reaction by promoting wind turbine development. But she says land owned by the council in south-east Northumberland is suitable for wind energy schemes.
“The placement of one or more wind turbines on these sites would enable electricity to be exported to the grid as well as establishing a revenue stream.
“This would be a high-profile project that would provide further evidence of the county council’s green credentials and demonstrate how renewable energy is replacing fossil fuels in a cost-effective manner.” The report says the authority has been approached by two companies looking to site wind turbines on county council land, initially in the south-east of the county. Any firm proposal for turbines at Cambois would be the subject of a planning application to Wansbeck Council.
Last night Don Brownlow, a member of the action group against plans for 10 wind turbines at Moorsyde near Berwick, said: “We believe wind turbines make more sense if they are located closer to the end user, instead of remote locations using good quality land.” A county council spokeswoman said two small sites in Cambois were potentially suitable for wind or wood energy. “At this stage we’re recommending that the council begins to explore possibilities about how its land could be used. These are simply options on the table, the detail of which would be discussed later.”
By Dave Black
10 March 2007
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