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Duke of Northumberland backing anti-wind farm protestors

The Duke of Northumberland has lent his support to anti-wind farm protestors and dismissed the turbines as a means for Governments to “pretend to be green”.

The landowner, who spoke out against wind power in The Journal in 2009 and has fought a turbine scheme in The Borders, says it is “idiotic” and “lunacy” to “destroy beautiful landscapes so that governments can pretend to be green”.

He has also claimed turbines only benefit landowners and developers, while ordinary people suffer from increased energy bills.

The Duke made the points in supportive letters to campaigners fighting proposals for a wind farm at Elsdon in Northumberland.

In 2009, he wrote to The Journal to make clear his views on wind power, having been accused of staying silent over the issue.

He described turbines as “ugly, noisy and completely out of place in our beautiful, historic landscape”.

The Duke revealed he had refused approaches from developers to build on his land, privately opposed schemes and had written to councillors to make his views known.

The aristocrat also led opposition to plans for turbines by the Duke of Roxburghe for a 48-turbine development at Fallago Rig, in the Lammermuir Hills, in the Scottish Borders.

In June, after two public inquiries, a judicial review refused to stop the plans proceeding.

Now opponents of Air Farmers’ proposal for nine turbines at Middle Hill, Elsdon, have enlisted the Duke’s support for their campaign against the scheme.

It proposes turbines close to the Grade II-listed Winter’s Gibbet historic landmark beside the boundary of the Northumberland National Park.

Aware of the landowner’s stance on wind, Prof Stephen Foti – interim chairman of the Middle Hill action group – wrote to him asking for his backing.

The Duke sent two letters giving his support and in his first stated: “It is idiotic to destroy beautiful landscapes so that governments can pretend to be ‘green’, whilst landowners and developers are enriched and the consumer is impoverished by even higher energy bills.” The group meanwhile also has the support of North East TV presenter and author John Grundy, who has signed its petition against the scheme.

On it, he wrote: “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.”

Prof Foti, 66, said last night: “We have got some significant support from significant people.”

He and his wife Barbara, 64, have meanwhile erected a sign on their land urging people to help fight the development.

The couple have lived at Elsdon for more than five years and own 180 acres of land in Northumberland National Park.

The turbines are proposed directly opposite the Fotis’ home, around 1,200 metres away – “too close for comfort,” the professor said.

The couple have now put up the sign, with an artist’s impression of how the view would be changed by the addition of turbines, and Mr Grundy’s comment. The sign says: ‘Welcome to Battle Hill view point, enjoy the view while it lasts’.

A public meeting has been arranged at Elsdon for November 16 to discuss the proposal. Air Farmers were not available for comment last night.