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Duke joins fight against windfarm

Campaigners fighting plans for a windfarm overlooking the National Park have won surprise backing from the Duke of Northumberland, who has branded the surge of upland development as ‘lunacy’.

Villagers in Elsdon reacted to plans for nine turbines at Middle Hill, next to the historic Winter’s Gibbett and within yards of the park’s boundary, by setting up an action group to fight the proposals.

But their efforts have now been backed by the Duke after interim chairman of the group, Professor Stephen Foti, wrote him a letter asking for support.

In his reply, the Duke – who has spoken out against windfarms in the past – said: “I would be happy to give my support in your fight against the windfarm proposal at Middle Hill.

“It is lunacy 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 Duke’s words of encouragement come hot on the heels of support from North East historian and broadcaster John Grundy, who has signed the campaign’s petition.

He said: ”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.”

Additional backing has been received from Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative political spokesman for north Northumberland, while local MP Sir Alan Beith has spoken to residents about their concerns at a local surgery.

Prof Foti said: “The response to our campaign has been very encouraging.

“We established a website and were quite surprised that one of the visitors to the site was John Grundy, so we then approached the Duke.

“I didn’t know what he would say, but I’m delighted that he has offered his support. The whole thing is so wrong on so many levels.”

The company behind the proposed turbines, Air Farmers Ltd, has already provoked an angry response from locals, when they made a presentation to Elsdon Parish Council in August.

Prof Foti said: “They have offered to throw massive sums of money at this community if we agree not to object and allow them to fast-track this development. They must have thought they were dealing with a bunch of country bumpkins.

“They will not be allowed to steamroller this through.”

A public meeting will be held at Elsdon Village Hall on Wednesday, November 16 at 7:30pm.