Determined north Northumberland residents have vowed to continue their fight against the proposed Middleton Burn windfarm near Belford.
The Middleton Burn Action Group (MBAG), which was set up last year to oppose plans by developers Air Farmers Ltd to build a 16 turbine windfarm at Swinhoe Farm, now has more than 300 members.
The group held its first annual general meeting on Friday, when a mandate for the committee was established, and strategies to best prevent the plans becoming a reality were discussed.
Following the AGM, MBAG chair Chris Craddock told the Advertiser: “Our immediate plans are concerned with preparing ourselves. We’re in a sort of phoney war at the moment – although we’re anxious to get on with things we really can’t do too much until the developer submits a planning application and we don’t know when that’s going to be.
“Until then we’re going to be trying to influence public opinion, get information, and raise funds – fighting planning permission is an expensive process. And of course we’re always on the look out for members because I can speak with much more authority if I can say I have got this many people behind me.
“We already have over 300 members. Not all of those live in the immediate area, some live further afield but are very fond of this area and feel that it needs to be protected. There’s very strong feeling.”
London-based developers Air Farmers Ltd prepared a scoping report on proposals to build the windfarm on farmland at Middleton Burn and held a public exhibition in Belford last year.
It came as a shock to many residents when Air Farmers Ltd wrote to local residents last year advising them of their proposal, as the 125 metre-high turbines would be visible from the entire area of natural beauty and would virtually dominate the view from Holy Island.
A public meeting followed in November, addressed by Air Farmers managing director Jens Rasmussen, and Andrew Joicey for the opposition. At the conclusion a ballot was held; 100 per cent of the 70 votes cast were against the development and MBAG was established to fight the development.
Among those in attendance at MBAG’s AGM on Friday was well-known Belford artist and author Ron Curran, who has thrown his weight behind the fight to prevent the windfarm by producing a water-colour publicity painting (above) based on the Viking invasion of Lindisfarne in 793 AD.
Because many windfarm development companies have strong Danish connections, with many turbines actually manufactured there, Ron, a former minor and mineworkers union official, was given a loose brief by the MBAG based on the idea that “windpower brought the Danish raiders here in 793 – do not let it happen again!”
Mr Craddock said: “It’s very amusing, it was very good of him to do that. It makes a very good point in a subtle way and we’ll certainly be using it as part of our publicity material.”
Glanton photographer Tony Meikle has also assisted the MBAG by producing a graphic artist’s impression of what the site would actually look like. His latest effort (right), depicts the Middleton Burn site from the church in Belford.
Middleton Burn Ltd on behalf of Air Farmers, have yet to submit a planning application for the development to Northumberland County Council. It is unclear when, and indeed if, they will do this.
Mr Craddock added: “We won’t know that anything’s going to happen until it does so we can’t do very much at the moment other than prepare.”
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