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Protesters rally for wind farm inquiry

Anti-wind arm campaigners in Northumberland last night issued a rallying call to prevent 18 new turbines being built near Alnwick.

The scheme, put forward by npower renewables for Middle-moor, near North Charlton, was turned down by councillors earlier this year.

But the company appealed against the decision, claiming it breached the council’s own planning policy, and a public inquiry is to be heard in Alnwick’s Northumberland Hall on November 13.

Last night those opposing the plans urged people who supported the protest to redouble their efforts for the inquiry.

Bosses at npower said it was time for Northumberland to start contributing to the UK’s green energy sector.

A pre-inquiry meeting will be held at the Northumberland Hall, in the market square, on September 11, where the planning inspector will outline the issues that need to be considered at the inquiry itself.

They include the visual impact of the wind turbines, the noise they would make, whether other sites were considered and the impact on tourism in the countryside.

Last night Nick Blezard, retired former managing director of Storeys SSP chartered surveyors, said it was vital that people made their voices heard.

Mr Blezard, 63, a member of the Save Northumberland’s Environment (Sane) group, who lives near the site of the proposed wind farm, said: “It’s important that the inspector who runs the public inquiry knows that there are people who object to these proposals.

“We live in a beautiful part of the country. We don’t object to wind turbines as such, we just don’t think they should be in Northumberland in an area that’s not that windy in comparison with areas like the west coast of Scotland and England.

“It’s very difficult for people to imagine how big these turbines are going to be. They will be visible from all along the coast, and from the Cheviots, and will completely dominate the landscape.”

But Clare Wilson, regional development manager for npower renewables, said: “This is good news for the project, a public inquiry will provide a balanced forum in which to discuss the facts about the wind farm.

“The council will have to defend an objection that contradicts its own planning department’s recommendation not to oppose the wind farm, as well as the county council’s recommendation that the wind farm is acceptable, and that of three separate reports into the scope for building wind farms in the area. Climate scientists predict further extreme weather patterns in the future, so it really is time for Northumberland to start contributing to reducing carbon emissions from energy and wind farms, like that at Middlemoor, can really make a difference.”

Mr Blezard invited people to contact him on (01665) 603376. To participate in the inquiry, contact Gary Mohammed or Walter Gusmag at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, Energy Development, Consents, V2121, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1 0ET or by emailing walter.gusmag@berr.gsi.gov.uk Forms need to be returned by August 31.

by Paul James

The Journal

16 August 2007