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Village votes ‘no’ to threat of turbines

A poll of people living in Woodland has returned a resounding ‘no’ to wind turbines being put up near their village.
Woodland Parish Council sent out voting forms to all households in the village giving people the chance to have their say on controversial plans to erect five or six turbines at Windy Banks, just south of Hamsterley Forest.
Tow Law firm Banks Renewables has been carrying out a feasibility study to determine if the site is suitable for the turbines but as yet no plans have been submitted to Durham County Council.
But residents have been expressing their fears since the study began. Cliff Harding, chairman of Hamsterley Parish Council, said he and his fellow councillors wanted to give the public a formal way to express their views.
The opinion cards were collected last Friday and 37 per cent of the leaflets given out were returned. Of these, 64.2 per cent said they did not want wind turbines built at Windy Banks.
Mr Harding said: “I think opinion was reasonably represented and it is a sufficient number to take consideration of. I thought both of the recent exhibitions given by Hamsterley and Upper Gaunless Action Group (Hugag) and Banks were well presented but the results show that people were not convinced by Banks’ argument.”
Mark Dowdall, environment and community director at Banks Group, said the company’s experience of postal polls was that they did not represent the views of the whole community. He said Banks had been working with an independent research company and results showed only 24 per cent of residents were opposed to the proposals at Windy Bank.
Of the 160 forms sent out by the parish council, 61 were returned with 120 registered opinions.
Mr Harding said the council would now formulate a response which would be made public once Banks Renewables formerly submit the planning application.
He said: “We feel we can’t make a response until we know exactly what it is Banks’ are proposing.
“But I have to add that the parish council is only part of the decision making process and it will be Durham County Council’s planning committee that will be making the decision. But this has give us the opportunity to see exactly what villagers’ opinions are.”