Wind farm developers have revealed they will not be submitting a planning application for their scheme at Swinhoe, near Belford, until next April.
Air Farmers Ltd, who are proposing 16 turbines, each 125m high, are awaiting the results of a study into the impact of such a development on wintering birds before lodging their plans.
However, project manager Bob Morgan remains confident birdlife from the nearby Holburn Moss peat bog and nature reserve will not scupper their plans.
Speaking at a meeting of Belford Parish Council, he said: “There is not going to be much to report on the wind farm until the results of the various studies we’re undertaking are in.
“We are now doing the environmental impact assessments, background noise measurements and meeting with the rights of way officer and RSPB officers.
“We already have 18 months of bird days and we will continue with that until March for the wintering birds which are the main concern.
“However, all the data so far is that there is little bird activity over the site of the turbines and the RSPB are happy that as the turbines are more than 1km away from Holburn Moss there will be no impact on geese migrations.
“We’ve got to wait until the last round of wintering birds surveys are completed before submitting the application but all the other reports will be done by the end of the year.
“The planning application will be submitted in April unless there is something that comes out of these wintering birds surveys but we don’t think that’s likely to happen.”
Vociferous concerns have already been raised by local residents worried about the impact on the historically significant St Cuthbert’s Cave and the popular St Cuthbert’s Way and St Oswald’s Way long distance walking routes.
A ballot organised by the newly formed Middleton Burn Action Group revealed that an overwhelming 94 per cent of local residents were against the scheme.
Mr Morgan admitted the developers were aware of the strength of local feeling and suggested there might be alterations to the proposed scheme.
“We are considering alterations to the scheme after taking into account the feedback we received from the public at the open meeting we organised earlier this month but they are subject to the on going surveys at this moment in time,” he said.
He also took exception to accusations from the Middleton Burn Action Group that they were trying to ‘bribe’ approval through the provision of a community fund.
Air Farmers are proposing a community fund of at least £48,000 per year – £1.2m over the 25-year term of the project – which could be spent on high street regeneration, a new tourist information centre in the old Barclays Bank building and a heritage and sculpture trail designed to ‘put Belford on the map’.
“It’s not a bribe as is stated on the action group’s website, it’s a fully justified component of a wind energy application,” said Mr Morgan.
Parish councillors refused to be drawn into a debate because they want to retain the right to speak when the application is lodged.
Coun Barbara Stanton said: “I am trying to maintain an objective position so I can represent the views of people that live in Detchant and Middleton.”
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