Villagers fighting plans for giant wind turbines will not be swayed by changes made to the controversial scheme, it was last night claimed.
Novera Energy â€“ part of the Infinis group â€“ unveiled plans last March to build five, 140 metre-high turbines at the former Sisters opencast site near Widdrington Village, Northumberland.
In 2001, the area was used as a burial site for tens of thousands of animals which were slaughtered during the foot-and-mouth epidemic which devastated the regionâ€™s farming industry.
The wind farm scheme was strongly opposed by Widdrington Parish Council, the village residentsâ€™ association and neighbouring Widdrington Station and Stobswood Parish Council
Now Infinis has made changes to the scheme in the wake of initial public consultations carried out last year. The company is proposing to cut the number of turbines from five to four, and reduce their height to a maximum 126 metres.
Last year the prospect of turbines visible from as far away as Craster, on top of the areaâ€™s history of opencast mining and foot-and-mouth disposal, saw the scheme met with anger and hostility locals.
Yesterday Widdrington Parish Council vice-chairman, James Grant, said the changes were a â€ścon-trickâ€ť which would not alter local opposition.
He said: â€śThe 140 metre turbines would have been some of the biggest in the country, and their approach was clearly to hit us with something we really didnâ€™t want and then scale it down to make it look as though we have won something. That is par for the course with these organisations and we anticipated it.
â€śLocal people simply donâ€™t want these turbines. We are making progress with the Blue Sky Forest regeneration project, which has the potential to employ 800 people locally, while the Sisters wind farm would bring no employment.
â€śAs a community, we said after the 2001 foot-and-mouth disposal operations that never again would anyone come to this area and tell us what they are going to do to make money out of us. With Blue Sky Forest we have our destiny in our own hands.â€ť
Infinis is staging public exhibitions of its revised plans on Thursday, January 27, at the Widdrington Station Area Training and Activity Centre, and on Friday 28 in Widdrington Womenâ€™s Institute Hall, both from 4pm to 8pm. It will submit a formal planning application in the spring.
The company intends to set up a community liaison group â€“ involving parish councils and other organisations â€“ to keep people informed about progress with the scheme, and discuss a local community benefits fund that will be established if the plan is approved.
Yesterday project director Susannah Side said: â€śWe are looking forward to meeting local residents again at the exhibitions and sharing with them our revised plans for the site. We are also keen to hear about projects that may be suitable for support from the community trust fund.
â€śIdeas that have already been suggested to us include support for a community turbine project and improved broadband access in the local area.â€ť
The Blue Sky Forest regeneration project aims to create a major leisure and tourism complex on restored opencast sites in the Widdrington area.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding