May 17, 2011

Proposed site for Windy Bank wind farm is close to home of David Bellamy

The Journal, 17 May 2011

Plans for a new wind farm close to arch-critic David Bellamy’s North East home will be unveiled this week.

The proposals for Windy Bank development, on County Durham agricultural land, will go on show to the public twice, having already drawn criticism from opponents.

Banks Renewables has been conducting a consultation over the last two years around the plans, which would see wind turbines erected in Teesdale, between the village of Woodland, and the southern edge of Hamsterley Forest, close to world famous conservationist and broadcaster Dr Bellamy’s home.

Locals have already formed an action group opposed to the plan, citing concerns about the effect on the landscape, tourism, wildlife, access, and health and safety.

Dr Bellamy, who has joined protesters against wind farms across the UK, said in the past: “Wind farms don’t work.

“I have been fighting them all over the world since 1996 and I will fight this one.” Dr Bellamy was away from home and unavailable for comment yesterday.

Despite the opposition, County Durham firm Banks is now hosting the two exhibitions to give local people the chance to see how the design has developed, and to provide further comment on them before a planning application is submitted to Durham County Council.

The first exhibition will be held between 3pm and 7pm tomorrow at Hamsterley Village Hall, with the second one taking place between the same times on Thursday at Woodland Village Hall.

The updated scheme design encompasses five turbines with a tip height of approximately 115m, and would produce up to 12.5MW of energy.

That is enough to meet the annual energy requirements of just under 7,000 homes. The original plan was for up to nine turbines, which has now been scaled down. Visitors to the exhibitions will be able to provide feedback to members of the Banks Renewables team on the plans, and to ask any questions they might have. Banks will also be looking for ideas about voluntary groups and local good causes that could be supported through the community benefits package that would be available if the wind farm gains planning permission.

Banks say the proposed Windy Bank site falls inside an area that was identified as being suitable for wind development in recent documents.

The North East England Renewable Energy Strategy document and a subsequent independent report prepared by consultants Ove Arup, for the North East Assembly, identified the site.

Phil Dyke, development director at Banks Renewables, says: “We’ve undertaken a great deal of work over the last two years to gather feedback from local communities about our proposals, and all this information has been used to help us hone our proposed design for the Windy Bank scheme. We believe that we have been able to design a scheme that is visually acceptable to the villages of Hamsterley and Woodland.”

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