November 9, 2007

Wind farm experts dismiss A1 dangers

Wind farm consultants have whipped up a new storm, after claiming there are ‘no particular road safety concerns’ on the A1 near Alnwick.

Planners currently building a case for 18 turbines at Middlemoor made the comments in a rebuttal of issues raised by local farmer and district councillor Robert Thorp.

He and others say the massive scheme could increase accidents along the notorious single carriageway route, which runs past the site.

The fate of the scheme is due to be fought out at a public inquiry which starts next Tuesday in the Northumberland Hall.

A planning inspector will hear evidence from objectors, council chiefs, the Ministry of Defence and developer npower renewables.

But Coun Thorp claims more long-term details about the road should be taken into consideration, including the death of six people in 1993 and three more in May 2000.

“I remember those lads who were killed at Charlton Mires in 1993,” he said. “The road hasn’t changed since then, so it’s clearly still a dangerous stretch.

“Drivers are still regularly going through the fence at that same spot. We all know locally that it is a danger.

“The building of the wind farm itself will cause massive disruption on the single carriageway in both directions. It’s going to bring the road to a virtual standstill.

“We’re talking about 100 concrete wagons a day for 18 days – and that’s not to mention the transportation of the massive turbine parts.

“The junction npower is proposing for the wind farm is 50 yards short of the beginning of the Brownieside dual carriageway, which I would suggest is extremely dangerous.”

And he added: “There is, of course, the wind farm itself, which will be a distraction to drivers using the A1.

“The whole thing needs to be seriously looked at.”

But in his rebuttal, consultant Donald Bennett says: “My evidence sets out the results of my review of personal injury accidents on the A1 10km either side of the site – the section of the A1 where the wind farm or parts of it may be visible to drivers over a five-year period – 2002 to 2007.

“Accident and traffic flow data was obtained from the Highways Agency, which showed that a total of 46 accidents were recorded in the period 2002-07.

“The average accident rate is lower than the national average for similar road types.

By Robert Brooks

Northumberland Gazette

9 November 2007

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