A turbine protest group says people in the dale have “woken up” to the possibility of wind turbines after they held a series of public exhibitions.
Hamsterley and Upper Gaunless Action Group (Hugag) say residents are now worried about the impact the turbines will have on scenery, tourism and wildlife.
Campaigners also claim there is a risk of exploding or collapsing turbines if Banks Renewables is allowed to build five 115m turbines between village of Woodland and Hamsterley Forest.
Banks held exhibitions at village halls last month – and in response Hugag this month hit back with exhibitions of its own.
Protestors hired out village halls in Hamsterley, Woodland and Copley and people who went along were shown illustrations of the impact turbines would have on the area. Leaflets explained why Hugag believes the development would harm wildlife.
Dramatic photos accompanied data for turbine accidents that included blade failure, fire, ice being thrown off and turbines collapsing.
Snaps of families enjoying Hamsterley Forest carried the message that “turbines would tower over the forest perimeter and invade its quiet places with noise and shadow flicker”. Peter Shield, a spokesman for Hugag, said the flight path of protected bats would pass through the spot where the turbines would be located. The habitat of rare birds would also be harmed, he said.
Mr Shield said many accidents had been recorded at wind farm sites. He said: “Whole blades and blade parts have been thrown onto public roads, burning debris has been flung into bordering forests and rotating blades in winter sling lumps of ice.”
He said 180,000 people visit Hamsterley Forest each year and 2,300 vehicles paid the toll to use the Forest Drive during the 2011 Easter weekend.
“It is extremely doubtful that public safety could be assured at this site,” he said.
“Don’t invite the booming, pulsating noise of turbines that so many people of all ages find deeply disturbing.”
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Renewables, said: “We fully respect the right of local people to express their opinions about our proposals, and have worked very hard to give them every opportunity to do so over the last two years.
“We have received a great deal of support for our Windy Bank proposals, both at our own exhibitions and through other channels, from people who have recognised the significant environmental and community benefits that it would bring to the area.
“We believe that we have developed an environmentally acceptable proposal that is wholly suitable for the location in which it would be situated, and we hope that this will be recognised when our planning application is assessed.”
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