A company proposing to erect wind turbines on the doorstep of a Tynedale gliding club has been informed of the “serious concerns” of neighbouring parish councils.
Consultant PB Power Ltd is carrying out a site assessment, on behalf of North-East based Pure Renewable Energy, which has drawn up proposals to locate six wind turbines near Hedley-on-the-Hill.
The structures would each stand at a height of 140 metres to the blade tip and would be split into two clusters of three, the first cluster located at Currock Hill near Northumbria Gliding Club, with the second located at Hedley-on-the-Hill overlooking Stocksfield’s New Ridley Road.
One of the six structures could stand on the fringes of Stocksfield Golf Club, another only 450 metres away from properties on New Ridley Road and a third turbine could be put up just 450 metres away from Hedley North dairy farm.
A formal planning application is yet to be submitted, but PB Power is in the process of consulting local communities on the proposals, which Broomley and Stocksfield Parish Council believe would be “vigorously opposed” by residents.
Vice chairman Coun. Ian Hall said: “Our response to PB Power identifies about 20 different areas where we have serious concerns.
“The three turbines on Currock Hill are beside the gliding club and the proposed plot shares a fence with the runway.”
The parish council has also identified a number of bridleways and footpaths which cross Currock Hill and highlighted the fact that Hedley is honeycombed with the remains of pits from its coal mining days.
Hedley Parish Council chairman Coun. Dr Richard Penny believes the development is in the wrong location and that the proposals the council has received are flawed.
He said: “The development is in a completely inappropriate location and would be visible from the whole of the Tyne Valley.
“The documents we have received are full of technical errors and inconsistencies. They describe each turbine as being 105 metres high, but then break it down into a pole height of 100 metres and an 80 metre blade diameter, which suggests to us they are actually 140 metres.”
But regardless of height, the Currock Hill-based Northumbria Gliding Club, said it would be forced to close if the scheme went ahead.
Club chairman Steve Fairley said: “We would have to close, without question. It’s pretty cut and dry for us.
“Even relocating elsewhere would be near impossible due to planning constraints, and we estimate it would cost in the region of £1million to do that.
“Anyone who works in aviation knows that you just couldn’t operate and wouldn’t want to be flying an aircraft anywhere near a wind turbine.”
He went on to describe the club, which has welcomed around 1,000 visitors each year since 1967, as a key sporting resource for the North-East.
“It would be extremely difficult to find another suitable spot and I have a feeling many of the members may be discouraged if they had to travel any further afield,” he added.
The Eastern Tynedale and Western Castle Morpeth Parish Councils Forum, which includes 16 parish councils and Prudhoe Town Council, has also been consulted on the scheme.
Chairman Adrian Hinchcliffe said: “The forum has received a copy of the scoping exercise (preliminary windfarm site assessments) and we have responded to the proposals with a lengthy set of observations.
“It appears to have been done as a desk top exercise with no one actually having visited the sites involved.
“For example, one of the proposed clusters of three, is less than half a mile from houses on New Ridley Road. Also Currock Hill is the highest hill south of the Tyne which would make the turbines visible from miles away.
“I fully recognise the need for renewable energy and I’m not opposed to wind turbines, providing we don’t go about damaging what we already have.”
Mr Hinchcliffe pointed out that Northumberland is one of the least spoilt county’s in England and said the proposals were in great danger of destroying people’s confidence in the area.
Alan Irvine, managing director of Pure Renewable Energy, refused to comment on the details of the proposals but issued this statement: “Prior to Christmas we wrote to a number of organisations and individuals as part of our extensive research into the potential technical and commercial viability of this project.
“As a North-East based company our aim is always to protect the environment and to serve local communities.
“As part of our considerate approach we have suggested that the usual response period of five weeks is extended and so we are expecting to hear back from a number of parties by the end of January. So, in short, the situation is unchanged at this point in time.”
By Gemma Somerville
25 January 2008
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