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Wind Farm Inquiry Day 3 — Morning

Views from some of North Northumberland’s most sensitive sites will not be affected by a wind farm at Middlemoor, an expert has claimed.

Giving evidence on behalf of npower, independent consultant Jeffrey Stevenson also said it was his professional opinion that residents living near the proposed 18-turbine scheme would not be adversely affected either.

Mr Stevenson was responding to statements made by core objectors to the development, including Alnwick District Council, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the National Trust.

All raised concerns about the appearance of a wind farm in the landscape, which they claim will harm views not only of the South Charlton area north of Alnwick, but also panoramas from the likes of Bamburgh Castle, Holy Island and the coast, across to the Cheviot Hills.

But Mr Stevenson said he believed all had ‘over-estimated’ the true impact, which he said was limited given the distances involved and the windswept nature of the moor.

“Views of Middlemoor from Bamburgh Castle would be a narrow sector in a wider panorama,” he said. “At Holy Island, the eye may be turned to the wind farm, it may be highlighted in certain weather conditions.

“Given the kind of view and span of view from 17.5km, I also think there is an over-estimation.”

From Cheviot, 22km away, he added: “It would not be seen at all in low visibility conditions, and in good visibility movement may draw attention momentarily to the wind farm.”

Mr Stevenson also said that the position of the wind farm, on the ridge near South Charlton, would ‘reinforce’ the boundary between the coastal plain and the moorland.

Down at the coast, he said views from Beadnell down to Dunstanburgh and Low Newton – all areas of concern to the National Trust – would be minimally affected.

North at Belford, ‘virtually nothing’ would be seen, save the possibility of a few blade tips, and even then a viewer would have to be in the right line of sight.

Asked about Flodden battlefield and the ancient Yeavering Bell hillfort to the west, Mr Stevenson said: “Given the distances, of between 23 and 26km, I don’t believe for a moment that there would be any significant visual effect arising in these locations.

“At Flodden Field, you might get between one and four turbine hubs or tips, not a significant effect. At Yeavering Bell, there may be a greater number of tips and a similar number of hubs, but only if you were standing at the top.

“At these distances, there will be no significant impact.”

Speaking about the possible effects on local residents, he dismissed concerns that the wind farm would be intimidating, even at just a kilometre from the nearest home.

“I don’t consider that the proposals would result in any impact that is intimidating, oppressive or overwhelming,” he said.

“From South Charlton, I did not identify any properties for which I felt there would be an overwhelming effect.

“I have not been able to visit every property, and if there are any where this is the case, I am sure they will be brought to your attention.”

During his evidence on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Stevenson described the wind turbines as having a ‘sculptural’ quality.

He is due to be cross-examined this afternoon (Thursday) by objectors.

Northumberland Gazette

15 November 2007