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Renewed fury over Wingates wind turbine disruption

Residents in a tiny Northumberland hamlet who will be surrounded by huge wind turbines are now facing weeks of disruption at the hands of the developer.

People at 22 homes in Wingates, near Rothbury, were left devastated last year when their fight against a proposal for six 110m high turbines close to the community ended in failure.

Now, the company who will put up the turbines is to close the main road into the isolated hamlet for up to eight weeks.

Last night, residents voiced their anger at the prospect of longer journeys over the wind farm none of them want.

Inifinis, formerly known as Novera Energy, was given planning permission for the turbines by Northumberland County Council last April.

A company commissioned by the developer recently applied to the authority for closure of the road which links the hamlet to Longhorsley, the A697 and the A1, to allow laying of a new electric cable to establish a grid connection for the wind farm.

The council granted the closure from March 5 until April 30, although its notice says the work is likely to end on April 13. The notice suggests an alternative route which would take traffic through Netherwitton, which will add an extra four miles on to people’s journeys and double their travel time.

The road is regularly used by people at Wingates to get to Longhorsley, and the A697 and A1 to travel to Morpeth and Newcastle for work, schools and shopping.

It is also vital to farmers who need access their fields, B&Bs and a holiday cottage whose visitors travel along it, as well as a 90-year-old woman who is visited by carers four times a day.

The road is also a delivery route for oil-bottled gas and coal to residents, timber to a sawmill, post and items sent by courier, as well as being used by bin wagons.

Residents in Wingates are furious about the disruption, the prospect of increased expenditure on petrol – and the fact it is as a result of a wind farm most of them did not want.

People are also annoyed at the lack of consultation and the prospect of further disruption when the turbines arrive.

John Thompson, chairman of the Wingates not Wind Farms action group which fought the turbine proposal, said: “If it were the case that the local people were actually going to derive any benefit then it may have been more acceptable.

“However it is for a proposal which was opposed by the overwhelming majority. It is for the benefit of a commercial venture.”

Jane Cotton, 56, owner of Pele Cottage bed and breakfast, is worried about the impact on her business.

She said: “I am concerned because I am about to reopen in March, I have not got any bookings for Easter yet.

“It is going to be closed through Easter weekend when potentially I could be busy.”

Infinis was unable to provide a comment last night, but a statement from Northern Powergrid, which is involved in the laying of the cable, said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the closure of the road so that connection work for the Wingates wind farm can take place.

“We have taken steps to minimise disruption by ensuring residents were informed of the work and putting in place a diversionary route.”

It is going to be closed through Easter weekend when potentially I could be busy