One of the North-East’s biggest visitor attractions is to lead the fight against plans for a wind farm in Northumberland.
And the Duchess of Northumberland’s Alnwick Garden will be backed by other tourism favourites, including the Chillingham Wild Cattle park and possibly Alnwick Castle – the home she shares with the Duke of Northumberland.
Bosses at the garden believe erecting 18 turbines 125 metres high near the town will reduce visitor numbers to both the garden and the town in general.
The attraction, which is six miles from the proposed site at Middlemoor, also believes the wind farm would dominate the surrounding landscape and be visible for miles around, and from the garden itself.
And the garden is to lead objections to npower renewables’ application at a public inquiry next month.
The attraction’s concerns were spelt out by John Lovett, chairman of the Alnwick Garden Trust.
He said: “If built this will be the largest wind farm in England with 18 turbines each 125m tall.
“The centre of the development lies just six miles to the north of the garden and will completely dominate the surrounding landscape.
“The turbines will be visible for many miles in all directions.
“The garden is concerned that the sheer scale of the development may discourage visitors to the Alnwick area – these visitors freely express the pleasure they feel when enjoying the fantastic natural and historic landscapes of Northumberland together with the coastal area of natural beauty and the Northumberland National Park.”
Chillingham Wild Cattle Association manages a unique and ancient herd at its park 16 miles from Middlemoor.
It recently invested in a new footpath which leads visitors to the top of a hill from where the turbines would be visible.
Part-time park manager Chris Leyland said: “It is going to detract from the tourist industry. We are directly linked to the tourist industry so it is going to have an adverse effect on us.”
A spokeswoman for Alnwick Castle, where Harry Potter films have been shot, expected the attraction to voice similar concerns.
npower has dismissed suggestions that the wind farm would affect tourism.
Regional development manager Clare Wilson said: “There are several studies into the effect of wind farms on tourism.
“Amongst the best is that by the University of West England into a proposed wind farm at Fullabrook, Devon.
“It was presented at the public inquiry and found that the wind farm would
have no impact on tourism numbers or revenue. The wind farm at Middlemoor could power every home in Alnwick and Berwick districts and as such has a vital role to play in fighting climate change.”
The company’s application is to be determined at a public inquiry after it was rejected by Alnwick District Council in February.
The council is to oppose the plans at the hearing which begins on November 13 and is expected to last three to four weeks.
Issues which will be discussed are the impact on tourism in the countryside, visual impact of the turbines, the noise they would make and whether other sites were considered.
As well as Alnwick Garden, the wild cattle association and probably Alnwick Castle, opposition is to come from Save Northumberland’s Environment, the Northumberland and Newcastle Society, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and local parish councils.
The Ministry of Defence is also to make representations.
A final decision on the wind farm is expected early next year.
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Inspectors reject appeals for two wind turbines
BIDS for two domestic wind turbines on Wearside have been rejected by Government inspectors.
Dean Croft nursery at Warden Law appealed against a refusal of planning permission by Sunderland City Council for a 12.5-metre high turbine on the green belt land.
But inspector Robert Barker said that the turbine would be inappropriate development in the green belt.
He ruled that approval for one turbine could set a precedent for other applications, with implications for the green belt.
A couple from Hastings Hill in Sunderland also lost their appeal for a domestic wind turbine on the gable of their bungalow in a cul-de-sac.
Inspector Richard McCoy said that the turbine would be harm the character and appearance of the area.
By Chris Robinson
2 October 2007
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