Community leaders in two neighbouring villages have voiced serious doubts over claims that plans for another wind farm in Northumberland are supported by almost half of local residents.
Novera Energy – part of the Infinis group – wants to build four 126 metre-high turbines near the villages of Widdrington and Widdrington Station.
Now the company has claimed that a survey carried out at two public exhibitions held last week resulted in 45% of local people supporting the scheme, 32% opposing it and 23% saying they have not yet made up their minds.
Infinis says it is delighted by the findings, which are based on almost 80 responses at the exhibitions, and it will be submitting a formal planning application in the spring.
But yesterday the two local parish councils said they were extremely sceptical about the survey results, which don’t reflect the strong opposition they are hearing about the project.
Val Seddon, who chairs Widdrington Parish Council, said: “The feedback I am getting from our residents is that they definitely don’t want this.
“I don’t know where Infinis get their figures from, but any support for the scheme must be based on Widdrington Station, which is further away than us from where the turbines will be built.
“I would view these figures with some scepticism, and we will be carrying out our own community consultation on this. We can’t see any advantages for our parish from this scheme. It won’t provide any jobs and will cause noise and disruption.”
Joe Sennett, who chairs Widdrington Station and Stobswood Parish Council, said public opinion might have shifted slightly after Infinis reduced the number of turbines from five to four, and their height from 140 metres to 126.
“We put a leaflet through every door last year asking for people’s views on this scheme, and the result we got back was 60% opposition. I believe most people here are against the wind farm, and I can only say that the figures from Infinis are totally different to our results.”
Infinis project director, Susannah Side, said: “We are delighted with the turnout and spirit of the events, and would like to thank people for taking the time to come and give us their points of view. We are now on course to submit a planning application in the spring. We will also be establishing a community liaison group to keep local people updated on the project.”
Meanwhile, people in the two villages have been invited to help design plans for a new opencast coal mine near their communities.
Banks Mining – which wants to dig 750,000 tonnes of coal over four years from the Ferneybeds site near Widdrington Station – is setting up a community design panel for the project.
It will be used to gather local views on the scheme and discuss the environmental, economic and social benefits which could be delivered if it is approved.
Anyone interested in being on the panel should contact Jan Gill at The Banks Group on 0191 3786100 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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