Almost 80% of people in a rural area of Northumberland are against plans to erect five massive wind turbines near their homes, critics of the project have claimed.
They say building the 126.5m-high windmills – each more than six times the height of the Angel of the North – would be a form of environmental disaster, because of the damaging impacts on life in the surrounding communities.
Green energy firm EnergieKontor has unveiled proposals to build the wind farm on land between the 14-home hamlet of Fenrother, near Morpeth, and the nearby village of Longhorsley.
Now local people who are planning to set up a formal action group to fight the scheme say that 79% of residents are against it, 16% are undecided and just 5% support the development. The claims are based on exit polls taken at two public exhibitions of the company’s proposals held this week.
Yesterday GP Dr James Lunn, who lives with his wife Gemma and baby daughter Imogen in Fenrother, and is a leading opponent of the wind farm scheme, said more than 130 people have also signed an online protest petition.
“We were very impressed with the responses of people who attended the two exhibitions, where there was some heated debate and very strong views given against the wind farm.
“Many were terrified of the effect it would have on the local economy and local communities.” Dr Lunn said there was a lot of ill-feeling over the fact that the developer had been involved in lengthy discussions with landowners, but residents were only given 10 days’ notice of the public exhibitions.
He said EnergieKontor would have to produce an environmental impact assessment with any planning application to build the turbines, but this would not take into account the scheme’s effects on the spirit and sense of togetherness in local communities.
“Whatever the technological arguments are, it is the disruption, and often disintegration, of local community spirit which represents the biggest environmental disturbance produced by wind farms close to communities.
“This occurs because in small, rural communities there will always be one, two or more landowners who would benefit massively financially from wind farms, whereas others will feel robbed of the rural surroundings they had previously, and which were often the main reason for them choosing to live in that location. The wind farm project at Fenrother would be an environmental disaster because of its disruptive effects on the surrounding local communities, and should be refused planning permission.”
Peter Harrison, UK general manager with EnergieKontor, said feedback from the two exhibitions would be assessed and there would be extensive discussions with local communities.
He said: “Even if we are to progress with an environmental impact assessment, that will take six to nine months so there will be no planning application submitted until summer at the earliest.
“From our perspective, we are pleased that about 140-150 people came along to see our proposals.”
The company says the wind farm could provide enough electricity for 7,600 households, and is located in an area earmarked as suitable for wind energy.
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