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Windfarms 50 years ahead of set targets

Windfarm plans for Northumberland are almost 50 years ahead of targets, the Gazette has been told.

There are proposals for 20 developments, at various stages, for 146 turbines in the north of the county alone, according to anti-windfarm campaign website Windbyte.

However, none of the seven so far approved in north Northumberland are yet in operation.

A spokesman for Windbyte said: “The county has already consented to sufficient renewables projects to meet the Government’s 2020 targets and will soon be at 2060 targets.

“There has to be a limit to the actions of wind speculators who are damaging the tourist industry and blighting rural communities with inappropriate proposals.”

A scheme for 18 turbines at Middlemoor, near North Charlton, was given consent in 2008 and as yet there has been no construction.

The Wandylaw scheme for 10 turbines, close to the Middlemoor site, and Barmoor with with six turbines, between Ford and Lowick, were both approved on appeal in 2009 and 2010 respectively but neither has seen any work begin.

Director of RidgeWind Nigel Goodhew, responsible for the Wandylaw site, said that they are still working through conditions, in particular with relation to the MOD, which has concerns about the effect on radar.

The Barmoor site is listed as ‘to enter construction’ in 2012 according to the Force 9 Energy website.

The plans for six 110-metre turbines at Wingates were only approved in April of this year.

The total number of possible turbines includes a further three schemes in recent months, at Elsdon, Belford and New Bewick.

Both the Elsdon and Belford developments are for 125-metre high turbines, and have been put forward by London-based Air Farmers Ltd.

Nine turbines are proposed for Middle Hill, south east of Elsdon, bordering the A696 and Northumberland National Park.

Campaigners in Elsdon have set up Middle Hill Action Group in objection to windfarm. They say it will have a significant impact on the village, tourism, environment and wildlife.

Richard Simmance, from the group, said: “This proposal may be only the start of what could be an encircling of the village – the National Park’s ‘Jewel in the Crown’ – by monsters which are so inappropriate in such a beautiful, wild and open landscape with such wonderful panoramic views of the Cheviots.

“Knowing that the diameter of the propellers are greater than the wing span of a Jumbo Jet and the height of each turbine over two-and-a-half times that of the communication masts on the top of Ottercops is astounding. The Blyth Harbour turbines are a third of the size compared with those proposed here.”

So far a petition on the group’s website has been signed by 91 people and a message from North East historian John Grundy says: “The Middle Hill site is part of one of the most remarkable landscapes in Northumberland and therefore in England.

“It is a place of wildness, enthralling history, beauty and vast views and it would be a national disgrace to allow it to be damaged. This proposal needs to be rejected out of hand.”

Another scheme, for sixteen 125-metre turbines at Ray Estate, is close to Elsdon, was consented in 2010 after a public inquiry. A further proposal, for twenty-two 120-metre turbines in Harwood Forest (Ray 2), close to the east, is also at the pre-application stage.

And an action group has been set up in opposition to the Middleton Burn Ltd scheme for sixteen 125-metre turbines near Belford.

The main concerns of the Middleton Burn Action Group are the visual impact of the site as well as the impact on heritage and environmental sites including St Cuthbert’s Cave, the St Cuthbert’s Way and Holburn Moss and Lake.

Middleton Burn Ltd is holding a public exhibition of their plans today to allow residents to find out more and ask questions of the developers at Bell View Resource Centre in Belford between noon and 8pm.

The scheme at New Bewick is for a single 77.9-metre turbine designed to meet the energy needs of the Harehope Estate, on which it is sited.

Residents have raised objections, in particular via the Gazette letters page, with many concerned that the turbine would be in a ‘natural bowl’ with the National Park to the west, the Site of Special Scientific Interest of Beanley Moor to the south and the popular tourist routes of the Chillingham to Alnwick road, Ros Castle and the Hepburn road to the east.

However in a letter supporting the scheme, Carole Rae said: “The farmer of the Harehope Estate is trying to reduce bills where he can against a market which is becoming increasingly high in costs.

“The placing of a turbine will help bring down the cost of running the estate and be of benefit to nine households on New Bewick.”

Air Farmers Ltd were unavailable to comment.