May 1, 2012

Opposition mounts to Hexham Racecourse wind turbine

by Paul Tully, The Journal, 1 May 2012

Opposition is mounting to a planned wind turbine on high ground overlooking the Tyne Valley.

The 51-metre turbine close to Hexham Racecourse would be visible for miles around, and has split opinion among the local community.

Tonight a decision on the fate of the turbine will be made by Northumberland County Council’s planning and environment committee in Morpeth.

Hexham Lib Dem councillor Derek Kennedy, although not a member of the planning committee, will speak on behalf of objectors.

But a recommendation for approval has been made by planning officers who say the benefits of the 225kw turbine would outweigh the “minimal impact” and “slight harm” to the Green Belt.

Racecourse chief executive Charles Enderby insists the larger turbine is necessary to supply their needs.

But Coun Kennedy says a smaller model with less visual affect from the hilltop site overlooking the valley would be adequate.

Coun Kennedy said: “If they had gone for a 20-metre turbine, similar to others in the area, it would have been enough.

“The racecourse also has a massive south-facing roof and with solar panels on there it could have generated that amount. This is right at the top of the hill and one kilometre away from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“When you consider that the Angel of the North is 20m high, and this is two and a half times that height, it gives you an idea of the impact it will have.

“I have had many people coming to me with objections. I share their concerns, and I shall be speaking on their behalf at Morpeth tonight.”

Louise Johnson, of Dotland Farm, Hexham, says the turbine will be visible from her home two miles away.

She said: “The general feeling is it could be smaller. We are not opposed to that kind of energy, but there are a lot of farms around here which will be affected.

“Our objections are that it is on Green Belt and is very high, so it is going to be seen over quite a large radius. There are eight residences within 1km and numerous others within 1.5km, including two residential housing estates. It will be visible from the Bridge End entrance into Hexham from the A69 and from a point to the right of the Abbey roof.

“After reading the application, I didn’t think the planning officers would put it forward for approval – but they have.”

Mr Enderby insists wind turbine energy is essential for the future of the racecourse in the face of a sizeable drop in Levy Board income. Solar panels had been considered but found to be inadequate.

Yesterday, Mr Enderby said: “The smaller wind turbine that is being suggested by objectors would generate much less than we require. We have to have a really substantial turbine in order to generate the amount of power that we need.

“The larger turbine is essential for what we need, and the smaller one simply would not be enough to meet our needs.”

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