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War of words over Wooler wind turbine plan

A war of words has broken out over possible plans for wind turbines in unspoilt countryside near a Northumberland village.

Berwick-based social enterprise Community Renewable Energy (CoRE) and Wooler-based development trust Glendale Gateway Trust are considering the possibility of siting two turbines with a hub height of up to 50 metres near Wooler.

The partners obtained planning permission from Northumberland County Council in June to erect a 50m wind monitoring mast at the Weetwood Moor site, which has since been put up.

Now, CoRE has been accused of “behaving just like commercial wind farm developers” by only being interested in the money their turbines would generate, and of using “misleading propaganda”.

On the website Windbyte – which monitors wind farm proposals in the North East – “surprise” is voiced that the trust is involved in a project which “may well kick-start the industrial degradation of local tourist landscapes”.

Last night, CoRE denied the claims made on Windbyte and said it was “discouraging” the site was seeking to detract from what it was trying to do for the benefit of communities.

The website refers to plans CoRE has lodged with the county council for a turbine at Berwick, which the organisation has stated could bring in £4m for the town’s community trust, its partner in that scheme.

It states: “Sadly, CoRE are behaving just like most commercial wind developers: they use misleading wind industry propaganda and their leaflets and website clearly state the main driver for their Berwick wind turbine project is the very large returns that it will provide.”

The website claims the turbines near Wooler would have a blade-tip height of at least 76m (250 ft). Windbyte says the site is within the Kyloe Hills and Glendale Area of High Landscape Value, close to Northumberland National Park, and is in an area of high amenity value.

The locality is also said to have numerous footpaths, including St Cuthbert’s Way, and nationally important archaeological monuments, including ancient cup and ring stones.

Last night, CoRE manager Ross Weddle dismissed suggestions it was behaving like commercial developers.

Mr Weddle said CoRE would only recoup its costs from the money generated by any turbines and would give the rest to local communities. “There is an awful lot of difference between a developer making money for shareholders and CoRE effectively putting money into the communities where the renewables are generated.” And he added it would not be seeking “giant” or multiple turbines.

“It is really annoying when some chap comes along with a bee in his bonnet and makes a hoo-ha about something we have not even decided about yet,” he said. “It is discouraging someone has the time and motivation to detract from what we are trying to do for community good.”

The trust failed to return The Journal’s calls.