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Mountaineers join windfarm protesters

The first Briton to climb Mount Everest is fighting to save the view from his favourite mountain – Blencathra in the Lake District.

Energy company Berrier Hall Wind Energy Ltd has applied to put up nine 60m-high wind turbines about two miles west of Greystoke near Penrith.

But Doug Scott and Sir Chris Bonington, two of the world’s most famous mountaineers, have both chosen to make the Northern Fells their home, and are united in their opposition to the Berrier Hill development.

Doug Scott who, with Dougal Haston, became the first Briton to climb Everest in 1975, said: “I’m always asked what my favourite mountain is and am expected to say Everest, but I always say Blencathra.

“I’ve been climbing it since I was 16, I’ve gone up it every Boxing Day for 35 years. To catch a glimpse of it on the approach lifts my spirits, and the thought of that being blocked by nine structures higher than St Paul’s Cathedral appalls me.

“We’ve got to preserve what little British landscape we’ve got left, not clutter it up with urban paraphernalia.”

He and Sir Chris yesterday joined members of the Berrier Hill Wind Farm Opposition group, who protested in front of a large, model windmill. Sir Chris put the development on a par with Whinash, where last year plans for 27 turbines were turned down by the government after a public inquiry.

He said: “I was involved in the objections to Whinash and the parallel here is absolutely similar.

“We are at the gateway to the Lake District, there’s no way you can justify having it so close, it’s going to be immensely obstructive.

“You’ve got to balance the area’s beauty and tourism with the benefit of renewable energy. There are places in Cumbria which are suitable for windfarms. This is not one of them.”

Protester Dave Bodecott said: “The only thing Cumbria has to offer is the beauty of its landscape.

It will be the first sight for visitors from the A66, the main arterial route into the Lakes from the M6 at Penrith.

“People say we’re NIMBYs, but it is the back yard of the nation, not just me. It will visually pollute what is a breathing space for the nation.”

Berrier Hall Wind Energy Ltd said the windfarm would provide enough electricity to power more than 12,000 homes and would play a role in the government reaching its target of 10 per cent of electricity being generated from renewable energy sources by 2010.

By Julie Armstrong

The Cumberland News

2 November 2007