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Developer moves to allay Northumberland wind turbine worries

A massive wind farm proposed close to ecologically and historically sensitive areas in Northumberland would be at “one of the most suitable and appropriate sites” in the North East, the company involved has claimed.

The Journal reported on Saturday how London-based Air Farmers Ltd is working on a scheme to build 16 turbines – each 125 metres high – at Middleton Burn, just north 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 just a few kilometres south west of the internationally-important Lindisfarne nature reserve and the North Northumberland dunes special area of conservation.

The turbines would also be close to Northumberland’s heritage coast and the Kyloe Hills and Glendale area of high landscape value.

The Northumberland-based wind farm monitoring website, windbyte, has said it is “hard to imagine a more inappropriate site” for massive industrial turbines. But Air Farmers have now sent a letter to local residents setting out the perceived benefits of its scheme.

The letter, written by project manager Bob Morgan, claims the North East has “one of the best wind resource areas in England”.

It adds: “We have concluded that the Middleton Burn site is one of the most suitable and appropriate sites within the North East region for development as a wind farm.”

Mr Morgan also claims the proposal would generate “sufficient clean, renewable electricity to satisfy the equivalent annual energy needs of up to 33,000 North East region households”.

He adds: “We believe the benefits of generating electricity from a free, self-replenishing and non-polluting natural resource will outweigh any local impacts of the proposed wind farm.”

The letter also tells villagers that Air Farmers proposes to create a community fund of at least £48,000 a year, which over its 25-year lifespan would equate to £1.2m.

A spokesman for windbyte hit out at the claims, saying: “The letter was highly exaggerated in terms of the wind resource in the area and of the benefits and suitability of the site.”

Air Farmers Ltd did not respond to request for comment yesterday. The company has already submitted a scoping report to Northumberland County Council.

It has now arranged a public exhibition on the scheme, which will take place at Bell View Resource Centre on West Street on Thursday, September 29, from noon to 8pm.

Belford resident Steve Newman said: “Some people are very anti and some people are all for it. It is like any other thing, it causes a stir. I am sure there will be plenty of people there next Thursday.”

The 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.

Last month it was revealed Air Farmers is seeking to build nine turbines at Elsdon, close to the grade II-listed Winter’s Gibbet historic landmark beside the boundary of the Northumberland National Park and A696.