A hamlet has emerged as the latest location to be earmarked for giant wind turbines as developers continue to lay siege to countryside surrounding a Northumberland market town.
Families in 14-home Fenrother, near Morpeth, have reacted with horror to the prospect of five turbines being built on nearby moorland.
Next week European energy company EnergieKontor UK will hold two public exhibitions of their plans for the wind farm between Fenrother and Longhorsley.
It is the latest in a raft of wind energy proposals targeting open countryside to the north, west and south of Morpeth, all within a few kilometres of the town.
There is the potential for more than 50 turbines to be built if all of the sites were approved and developed. The locations include two sites near the hamlet of Wingates; View Law near Longhorsley; Todburn; Rayburn Lake: the former Sisters opencast site at Widdrington; Longhirst; the former Tranwell Airfield and nearby Molesden.
Now people in Fenrother plan to liaise with other pressure groups in the Morpeth area and call for a more strategic approach to wind farm development because of the growing pressure locally from energy firms.
Dr James Lunn lives in the hamlet with his wife Gemma, also a GP, and their baby daughter Imogen. He said: “We want to communicate with other wind turbine groups because I believe we need a county-wide stance in Northumberland. We think we need a more coherent plan for the area because this is just going to go on and on.
“We only got wind of this last week from a parish councillor and it has come completely out of the blue. He was perturbed that these plans were so well advanced yet were being hidden from the public. Everyone in Fenrother is against it, not only because of the location but also because of the principle that Northumberland is at risk of being littered with turbines.
“It is really sad because we have got a beautiful community here and it has come as a tremendous heartbreak to find out that this has been in the planning stages for some time. These five turbines would be within 1,500 metres of the Longhorsley Moor site of special scientific interest, close to the A1 and could hit property prices by 20%.”
County councillor Glen Sanderson, whose ward includes Fenrother and who organised a recent public scrutiny meeting on the issue of wind turbines, said Morpeth was at risk of being encircled by wind farms.
“It does look like we are under attack from all sides and, if all these sites are developed, anyone in the Morpeth area could not fail to see a turbine in any direction,” he said. “The issue here is about local residents’ concern that Northumberland is getting more than its fair share of wind farms, and fears that we are being over-compliant and generous, whether that is right or not.
“A number of these proposals would be very visible indeed and would surround Morpeth. I think the planners will have to think very carefully abut all this.”
Coun Sanderson said it was important for the council to find the resources to speed up work on preparing a landscape and capacity policy for renewable energy in Northumberland, which was already approved in Cumbria.
“There is an urgent need for us to be better armed with evidence to be able to counter all of these applications coming forward,” he added.
EnergieKontor, whose UK base is in North Yorkshire, says the Fenrother project involves a 15mw wind farm which could provide enough electricity for 7,600 households. Project manager Sam Dewar said the site has a good wind resource and lies in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development.
“It is not located within an area designated as green belt, or other sensitive landscape or wildlife protection designation. We have set a minimum distance of 800m between turbines and off site properties, and in most circumstances this distance is even greater.”
The public exhibitions will be held on Wednesday at Tritlington First School and on Thursday at Longhorsley Village Hall, both from 5pm to 8pm.
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