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Turbine dropped from controversial windfarm

Windfarm applicants have amended their plans for a site near Widdrington, but villagers remain concerned.

Novera Energy revealed proposals last year to erect a five-turbine windfarm on land between Widdrington Village and Widdrington Station, with turbines up to 140m tall.

The scheme came in for heavy criticism at a public meeting at Widdrington WI Hall, with concerns that it would blight the community, create an eyesore and jeopardise regeneration plans for the area.

Residents in Widdrington Station were more supportive, with comments that a windfarm would be better than more opencast mining, but a parish-wide vote found 54 per cent against the proposal.

Now Novera has dropped one turbine from the plans for the Sisters site and the height of the remaining four will be reduced to 126m.

The company, part of the Infinis group, will hold two public exhibitions next week to show the latest proposals. But village leaders say the community is unlikely to change its views.

Widdrington Village Parish Council Chairman Valerie Seddon said: “We have to wait until we get the official planning application through before the parish council can formulate a response and obviously we have to consult residents as well. Certainly, the people I have spoken to feel exactly the same though. I would say that what most residents are concerned about is the actual position of the windfarm, which is directly in front of the village on a slightly rising slope.

“There is absolutely no way of mitigating against the visual impact. I can’t really see that reducing the scheme by one and reducing the height of the turbines is going to make that much difference, but we really have to ask our residents how they feel about it.”

Widdrington Station and Stobswood Parish Council Chairman Joe Sennett also has concerns.

He said: “They have reduced the size of the turbines by about 14m, but we are still looking at a height of almost 400ft. We put it to the vote and the majority of people said no to it, but if Novera brings it out to people and explains what it has done to cut the height we’ll have to see if people feel the same.

“We have to go down the route of some alternative kind of energy, but what worries me is we know for a fact that there could be 40 applications for windfarms waiting to come out and we could be surrounded by them.”

Novera plans to set up a community liaison group to keep people informed of the application progress and discuss a potential community benefits fund.

Project Director Susannah Side said: “We 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 local projects that may be suitable for support from the community trust fund.”

The exhibitions will be held next Thursday at the Area Training and Activity Centre in Mile Road, Widdrington Station, and the following day at Widdrington WI Hall, both from 4pm to 8pm.