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Villagers fight Haydon Bridge High School wind turbine

Petitions against a wind turbine on council-owned farmland have been launched in a Tynedale village.

Northumberland County Council wants the 15.3-metre, six-kilowatt turbine to service a modern, zero-carbon learning centre at Haydon Bridge High School.

But the turbine would be built close to a conservation area on nearby Waite Farm – and a number of protest petitions are being placed in shops in the village.

John and Julie Nattrass, of High Meadows, North Bank in Haydon Bridge, are leading the battle to stop the Council building the turbine.

Mrs Nattrass said: “We are prepared to fight. Where they are proposing to put it is just not feasible.

“This is supposed to be a conservation area – which is why John and I bought it in the first place five years ago.

“Having only one turbine would mean they wouldn’t feel the benefit of it – and our worry is that they would then come back for more.

“Before you knew where you were, there would be a full-scale wind farm there.”

Objectors say the three-blade turbine could disturb and damage known bird colonies in the area as well as prove an eyesore.

A 130-metre stretch of underground cable would cut across the conservation area. Hexham MP Guy Opperman has written to the local authority to “seek clarification” on the issue. Mr and Mrs Nattrass, who live 175 metres from the proposed turbine site, have spread petitions in a number of shops in Haydon Bridge and say they are getting strong support.

“Quite a few people that we’ve spoken to in the village hadn’t even been informed about it,” Mrs Nattrass added. “And when they’ve then been told they say ‘That’s not on’.

“The cost of a turbine is another issue. One can cost between £60,000 and £90,000, but why don’t they use solar panels at the school, which is far cheaper?”

Planning permission was originally granted for a 13.3-metre turbine on school land in March 2010 as part of a zero-carbon learning centre development.

But now the council is seeking a larger turbine instead in the alternative location “to maximise the amount of energy generated for both the existing school and zero-carbon learning centre”.

The council says a direct drive built into the steel turbine would cut out the typical “hum” associated with turning blades.

The chosen turbine design is “contemporary but sympathetic to the surroundings”, it adds.

Waite Farm’s tenant Peter Telfer, 50, said last night: “I’ve signed the petition too, and objected on the grounds that if I wanted a wind turbine I wouldn’t go and plonk it on a neighbour’s land.

“Other farmers have put wind turbines up for their own benefit – but this won’t be for my own benefit. It’s for the school’s benefit.

“The turbine will be 100 metres from my cattle shed and could affect the animals badly, but they’ve never really consulted me at all about this or had the decency to tell me.”

Northumberland County Council was unable to comment.