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Detchant wind farm fears voiced  

Credit:  The Berwick Advertiser, www.berwick-advertiser.co.uk 5 December 2011 ~~

Wind farm developers were given a rough ride at a public meeting held to discuss plans for 16 turbines, each 125m tall, at Swinhoe Farm, Detchant, near Belford.

Middleton Burn Action Group organised the meeting at the Bell View Centre on Wednesday to hear presentations for and against and to measure public support for a campaign to oppose the scheme.

A written ballot saw 100 per cent of the local people who took part voting against the proposal, claimed event organisers.

The crowded meeting heard a presentation by Jens Rasmussen, the Danish managing director of Air Farmers, setting out their claims for the benefits of the proposal.

As at previous events this centred on possible sums offered for a ‘community fund’ funded from the project’s earnings.

Andrew Joicey, a farmer and campaigner against inappropriate wind developments in north Northumberland, then presented a spirited counter argument, showing how subsidies were driving the wind rush in Northumberland.

“A wind farm of 16 3MW turbines, as proposed at Middleton Burn, would give an income in subsidy alone of around £4.8m every year,” he explained. “This is paid for by all of us, through our electricity bills.”

A lively question and answer session followed, with one audience member telling Mr Rasmussen, to loud applause, that his proposal would be fought by the community who would raise the funds necessary “to fight to the death” of the proposal.

A written ballot was held after the presentations. There were 70 signed papers, all of which opposed the scheme. None of the people attending the meeting voted in favour or were undecided.

Mr Joicey, directly addressing Mr Rasmussen, received warm applause when he stated that in seven years of fighting inappropriate wind developments in north Northumberland he had not seen a worse proposal than Middleton Burn.

There was also criticism from ornithologist Graham Bell, former county bird recorder and chairman of the North Northumberland Bird Club.

Mr Bell drew attention to the inevitable disruption and danger to the wild geese that come from the Arctic every year to winter in the area of the wind farm – feeding in the fields and roosting at Holburn Moss.

Air Farmers is expected to submit its planning application in the spring following completion of a winter birds survey.

Jens Rasmussen said: “We are currently engaged in the consultation phase of our renewable energy project at Middleton Burn so we welcome any constructive feedback and comment in respect of our current development proposals.

“We attended last Wednesday’s meeting in the knowledge the attendees were likely not to support or agree with our plans.

“At the meeting we were willing to discuss and debate the merits of our renewable energy scheme, but declined to enter into any debate about the pros and cons of government energy policy or wind farm guidelines as these are political issues.

“As a responsible developer we will stringently comply with all relevant wind farm policies and technical guidelines whether we agree or disagree with them

“We were unhappy with some of the personal remarks made towards us, but were encouraged by the significant number of participants who thanked us for having the courage to attend the meeting and present our perspective.

“We were concerned that many of the views expressed during the meeting were based on personal fears and opinions rather than on objective, evidence based factual information.”

Meanwhile, plans have been submitted by Fenwick Jackson for the installation of a single wind turbine at Shoreswood Farm, near Allerdean.

The turbine would be 50m to hub, with a total height to blade tip of 74m and produce around 2,000MWh per year. It is around 1km from the nearest privately owned home.

Source:  The Berwick Advertiser, www.berwick-advertiser.co.uk 5 December 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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