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Residents voice fears over Molesden wind mast

Families in a rural area of Northumberland are manning the barricades against monitoring plans which they fear will pave the way for another wind farm development in the county’s open countryside.

Independent energy consultants want permission to put up an 80 metre-high wind speed testing mast on farmland between Morpeth and the picturesque village of Whalton.

County councillors are tonight expected to approve the application by Newcastle-based TNEI to use the anenometer mast for three years near the hamlet of Molesden, 4km from Morpeth.

The application has sparked 25 letters of objection from people who say the mast will lead to a formal bid to build wind turbines on the site.

The latest proposal comes as a debate continues to rage over whether too many wind farm schemes are being given the go-ahead in Northumberland, compared to most other parts of the country.

An opposition group is already being set up in the Molesden and Whalton area against any plans to build turbines, with locals claiming the test mast site is between 200 metres and 500 metres from the nearest home.

In a letter to the council, Lester Sher, who lives at East Molesden House, says the site is in a “totally inappropriate” location as the forerunner to a wind farm that would be within 500 metres of some homes. He said: “Local residents have formed an opposition group which is committed to vigorous and informed objection at every stage of this proposed development and the potential consequences.”

Mr Sher claims a wind farm would potentially damage Morpeth’s attractiveness for leisure, shopping and tourism. Another objector, Rosemarie Meadowcroft who lives in Morpeth town centre, says in a letter: “We must protect and preserve our beloved town, and its wonderful rural setting, from these monstrous wind farms springing up all over the place.”

Ann Rutter, of East Edington near Molesden, says the mast site is between 200m and 500m from residential properties. “This is grossly inappropriate and would be extremely intrusive,” she adds.

The application for the test mast is being recommended for approval tonight by the council’s planning and environment committee.

A report to councillors says data gathered by the mast is needed to help identify the most suitable type of turbine to be built.

Officers say that, while objections to a possible future wind farm in the area are understandable, they are not a material consideration in deciding whether to allow the test mast, which must be considered on its own merits.

They say the temporary and “relatively unobtrusive” mast will not harm the local landscape or people’s amenity.