December 27, 2011

Wind farm test mast near Tranwell Woods is opposed by residents

by David Black, The Journal, 27 December 2011

A growing backlash against the tide of wind farm bids engulfing Northumberland is continuing as campaigners and residents oppose moves to build turbines close to an upmarket woodland housing estate.

Onshore wind specialist Wind Ventures is seeking permission for a 70 metre-high mast to test wind speeds and conditions at the former Tranwell Airfield near Morpeth.

The mast – close to the exclusive Tranwell Woods housing estate – would be in place for up to three years, and will provide data to guide future plans to build four 126 metre-high turbines at the former RAF base.

It is one of a raft of potential new wind farm sites in the countryside surrounding Morpeth – and the proposed test mast has sparked objections from 16 local residents and the campaign group Action for Rural Morpeth.

Next month county councillors are expected to grant permission for the mast, despite claims by opponents that there is now ample evidence in Northumberland about the “flawed and inappropriate” development of wind power.

Action for Rural Morpeth, which was set up in response to a similar wind test mast at Molesden near Morpeth, is one of a number of groups alarmed at the prospect of dozens of turbines going up around the market town.

Residents in the Tranwell area say wind farm development there would deter business executives from moving to the area, and could have an impact on job creation. They also feel turbines would spoil the character of the area and harm wildlife.

A letter from the committee of Action for Rural Morpeth says it opposes the Wind Ventures application in the strongest possible terms.

“We believe Northumberland to have sufficient wind schemes to allow proper prospective examination of the efficacy of these schemes, before committing itself to further potentially wasteful endeavours,” it adds.

Local resident Susie Geoghegan says allowing the mast – with the likelihood of a subsequent wind farm development – will deter people from moving to Tranwell Woods.

She says this would contradict and make a nonsense of having an area of special executive housing.

Another resident, Esther Ridley, says: “I am constantly learning about complaints regarding what is happening in and around Morpeth.

“It is time this council started listening to the general public. The residents of Tranwell Woods want to be left in peace.”

A report to next month’s planning and environment committee recommends approval of the Tranwell mast, which officers say will be relatively unobtrusive, temporary and won’t have a long-term visual impact on the surrounding area.

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