A green energy company looks set to generate further controversy after revealing plans for a second major wind farm close to ecologically and historically sensitive sites in Northumberland.
London-based Air Farmers Ltd is working on a scheme to build 16 turbines – each 125 metres high – at Middleton Burn, just north of the village of Belford.
The site is close to the National Trust-owned St Cuthbert’s Cave visitor attraction, the popular St Cuthbert’s Way and St Oswald’s Way walking routes and the Holburn Moss peat bog and nature reserve.
It is also just a few kilometres south west of the internationally-important Lindisfarne nature reserve and the North Northumberland dunes special area of conservation.
Yesterday the Northumberland-based wind farm monitoring website, windbyte, said it was “hard to imagine a more inappropriate site” for massive industrial turbines.
Windbyte claims the Middleton Burn wind farm would dominate views from Holy Island and form part of a chain of 50 giant turbines stretching from North Charlton to Lowick.
Last month it was revealed that Air Farmers Ltd is seeking to build nine turbines, also 125 metres high, at Elsdon, close to the Grade 11-listed Winter’s Gibbet historic landmark and directly beside the boundary of the Northumberland National Park and A696.
The Middleton Burn site is located between planned wind farms at Middlemoor near North Charlton, Wandylaw near Chathill, and Barmoor near Lowick, which between them already have planning permission for 34 turbines.
The windbyte spokesman said the scheme would severely test the capacity of north Northumberland to take further turbines, and raise serious issues of cumulative impact when taken with the already approved installations at Middlemoor, Barmoor and Wandylaw.
“This area has previously been seen as off-limits to wind speculators due to its proximity to the heritage coast and the Lindisfarne National Nature Reserve. The site borders Holburn Moss SSSI and will have major impacts on the Kyloe Hills and Glendale area of high landscape value. All in all, it is hard to imagine a more inappropriate site for massive industrial turbines,” he added.
Belford parish council chairman, Michael Young, said he fully expected the scheme to provoke controversy and opposition. “I don’t know how it will go but I think it will be quite a while before any planning permission is granted for this site. My initial reaction would be what can it offer the village, and what sort of visual impact will it have. There are lots of things we need to find out.”
Fellow parish councillor Geoff O’Connell said: “We have to examine what impact a wind farm would have on the parish, not only the people who live here but also those we rely on for tourism income.”
A county council spokeswoman said Air Farmers Ltd had submitted a scoping report on the Belford site, which was in an area where there were several ecologically important sites.
She added: “This is a document that helps to identify the issues that need to be addressed in an environmental impact assessment that will have to be submitted with any planning application. At this stage there is no consideration of the merits or otherwise of the proposal.”
No one from Air Farmers Ltd responded to a request to comment.
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