Controversial plans to site two separate windfarms on land north of Belford Moor have met with strong views in the village.
The Middleton Burn Action Group – which was set up initially to fight the Middleton Burn proposals – has vowed to do all it can to prevent the plans from becoming a reality.
The group has more than 300 members who believe that the Belford area is not an appropriate place to site industrial turbines. They say that the wind farms would devastate the landscape and potentially impact on property prices and tourism.
But not all villagers are opposed to the plans.
One resident, ‘Ri’, told the Advertiser: “Having lived locally (in Belford) for the majority of my life, I have been able to communicate with various groups of people, most stating they were unconcerned amount the plans. The general consensus being that they prefer this to many other ‘green’ solutions and feel it’s considerably better than burning fossil fuels.”
At a public exhibition put on by developers EnergieKontor last week show casing the Belford Burn plans, more than 99 per cent of the 169 votes cast in an exit poll were against the development.
But Ri believes that many of the people attending the exhibition were likely to already be members of MBAG. She said: “I believe the majority of people attending the exhibition are likely to already be part of Middleton Burn Action Group and have used the poll to manufacture this statistic.”
She added: “I would be very interested in hearing MBAG’s suggestions on how the local area could improve its power supply.
“The turbines would provide great amounts of renewable energy and money into the local area, with local business benefiting from the extra short term workforce. I really struggle to see any other alternative for the foreseeable future.”
MBAG chair Chris Craddock said that the group had encouraged all local residents to attend the public exhibition, and that there had been no “bussing-in” of the action group’s supporters.
Addressing the issues raised by Ri, he said: “Industrial wind turbine developments like Belford Burn and Middleton Burn are certainly not green. The fact is that the manufacture and construction of these developments have a significant carbon footprint, significantly in excess of that associated with the construction of a modern, efficient combined cycle gas turbine plant of similar capacity. It also causes significant toxic pollution of watercourses with Neodymium, a metal essential to wind turbines’ magnets.
“Furthermore, because the wind is unreliable, there has to be back-up generating capacity available at short notice to replace that generated by wind when the wind either fails or becomes too strong. This capacity is not immediately available unless the generating machinery is turning and therefore burning fuel.
“As for the improvement of the ‘local’ power supply, these wind turbine developments will do nothing for Belford’s electricity supply. The Middleton Burn scheme has said that it expects its electricity to enter the grid at Paxton, north of the Tweed. The Belford Burn exhibitors were unable to say how they intend to connect to the grid, but whatever their intention it will involve miles of transmission line, causing significant losses of power before it reaches the consumer. Neither Middleton Burn nor Belford Burn will provide any electricity to Belford – probably just as well, given the unreliability of wind power!”
Mr Craddock added that industrial wind turbine developments have “an appalling record” with regard to local economies. “Speaking to the Energiekontor exhibitors during their exhibition, I was told, firstly, that local employment opportunities included construction companies and workforces based as far away as Scunthorpe and Halifax and that these were ‘local’,” he said.
“The fact of the matter is that there will be little, if any, benefit to local employment, and if an odd job is offered locally, it is likely to be very temporary.”
Mr Craddock said the sensible and scientifically-justifiable solution to the continuing provision of electricity is to develop the shale gas deposits sitting under the Blackpool area, and to invest in highly-efficient combined cycle gas turbine generation to burn it, while at the same time developing nuclear capability, still the cheapest form of electricity, to provide base-load power.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding