Campaigners prepare for battle of the windfarms
Credit: Morpeth Herald, www.morpethherald.co.uk 4 March 2012 ~~
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Anti windfarm campaigners are preparing for battle, with two applications due to go before councillors next week.
Plans by BT to build a three-turbine windfarm at Wingates are recommended for approval by Northumberland County Council’s Planning and Environment Committee on Tuesday, along with a test mast application by EnergieKontor UK.
But both proposals have led to objections from locals.
BT’s plans would see the 121-metre-high structures erected on land at Wingates Moor, but 24 letters of objection have been submitted.
Northumberland National Park Authority and Nunnykirk and Netherwitton parish councils have also objected.
Brinkburn and Hesleyhurst Parish Council has said it supports alternative energy, but does have concerns about the scheme.
However, two letters of support have been put forward and council officers say the potential benefits of renewable energy will outweigh the impact on local landscape, visual and residential amenity.
The turbines will create enough electricity for all of BT’s operations in Northumberland and, as part of the scheme, BT will upgrade broadband at 200 homes in Wingates, Longhorsley and Netherwitton.
Meanwhile, 99 objections have been submitted to plans for an anemometer mast on land at Fenrother by EnergieKontor UK.
The 60-metre-high structure will monitor wind speed and weather conditions to assess the area’s suitability for a windfarm and the most appropriate turbine type that could be used.
Locals have questioned the need for the structure or any subsequent windfarm and are concerned about the visual impact and scale of the met mast.
But planning officers say there will be no adverse impact.
Dr James Lunn, of the Fight Fenrother and Longhorsley Windfarm group, said: “We feel disappointed and let down by the planning department and the officer’s report.
“It says that a 60-metre structure will have no visual impact whatsoever. They have let down 100 people who live around the site and feel it will have an impact and be of detriment to our lives and our experience of Northumberland.”
Project Manager Sam Dewar said that while existing data suggests the site has a high wind resource, the mast is essential to ensure the most efficient choice of turbine is used for any future windfarm.
“It is part of the process of determining the full characteristics of the site and all possibilities, it is very important,” he said.
“It is an application for a met mast, it is not an application for a windfarm. It is a temporary structure which will be up for a maximum of three years.”
Elsewhere, the Action for Rural Morpeth (ARM) group, which is fighting plans by Falck Renewables Wind for turbines between Molesden and East and West Edington Farms, has accused the developer of secrecy.
When permission for a test mast at the site was granted in August, despite 74 objection letters, Falck’s agent TNEI Services wrote to residents saying they would be kept up to date with progress and a public exhibition would be arranged.
However, ARM claims it has heard nothing since and urged TNEI and Falck to give an update on when it intends to install the mast, as well as further information about its plans.
The companies say they do not have the necessary details at present, but all correspondence from the group has received a response.
A TNEI Services spokeswoman said: “The wind monitoring mast permission is limited to a period which expires on August 3, 2014.
“Falck Renewables Wind do intend to erect this mast within the allotted period, however, as previously indicated in direct correspondence with ARM, it does not have a scheduled date for installation at this time.
“We have not been secretive about the plans, we simply do not have sufficient information at this time to answer the questions posed by ARM.
“Falck Renewables Wind would like to take this opportunity to reassure both ARM and members of the local community that sufficient time will be allocated during the design phase of the windfarm for a meaningful and transparent programme of public consultation.
“To date, the necessary baseline survey work has only partially been conducted and in order to be able to answer questions fully and informatively, additional studies have to be carried out.
“TNEI will be pleased to notify ARM and other relevant stakeholders on behalf of Falck Renewables Wind when a schedule for public consultation activities is known. Until that time, TNEI will of course continue to correspond directly with ARM.”
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