A wind farm company behind one of the most controversial developments in Britain now has its eyes fixed on a Northumberland moor, The Journal can reveal.
West Coast Energy has applied to Alnwick District Council to erect a wind-monitoring mast at Debdon, near Rothbury, which will provide data for possible future developments.
The firm, which has offices in Edinburgh and Mold, Wales, has already built the biggest – and perhaps most campaigned-against – onshore wind-farm in the UK, at Cefn Croes in the Welsh Cambrian Mountains.
The Debdon mast will be a five-year project, if it is approved by Alnwick district’s development control committee.
As well as standing close to the historic Cragside House and Estate, the Coquet Valley and Northumberland National Park, it is also just a few miles from Rimside, where plans for three huge turbines were rejected on appeal after a public inquiry in 2003.
Local people are apprehensive about the latest attention their community is receiving from the wind industry.
“It’s another battle that’s going to have to be fought when the time comes,” said Chris Blythe, who lives across the moor at Roughcastles, near Edlingham and also fought the Rimside proposals.
“I have no doubt about it, the company is trying to prove that there is enough wind up there, even though this is not a designated area under the regional renewable energy strategy.
“It’s a sad state of affairs, but it’s inevitable given the amount of money and subsidies being offered to build these installations.”
Resident Tony Henfrey, who also campaigned against Rimside, said: “This company is not exactly putting up an anemometer for academic purposes – it wants to build a wind farm at that site.
“This same company is responsible for the disastrous development at Cefn Croes, which has destroyed one of the most beautiful parts of central Wales.
“Rimside is still fresh in people’s minds and I expect there will be a great deal of opposition to yet another piecemeal wind application.”
Chairman of Rothbury Parish Council, Tony Sandford, said: “We are in an area which relies on tourism, and more people are employed in that industry here in Rothbury than ever before.
“Anything that threatens to spoil this area has to be taken very seriously, but there is also the counter argument of what is currently happening to the world’s climate.”
The Journal contacted West Coast Energy for a response, but the company has so far failed to make comment on its plans.
A spokesman for Alnwick District Council’s planning department said: “The application has been submitted for a wind-monitoring mast and will be debated at a forthcoming development control committee meeting.
“Any application has to be decided on its own merits.”
By Robert Brooks
9 July 2007
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