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Public get a view of final plans for windfarm

Final plans for a Fenrother windfarm will go on show to the public next week.

Energiekontor UK will hold an exhibition on Tuesday to present details of its bid to erect five turbines to the north of the hamlet, just south of Longhorsley.

The company is facing fierce opposition from locals to the plans, but it says the site is in an area of search for windfarms and is not classed as green-belt land, nor designated as a wildlife protection area or sensitive landscape.

It argues that the turbines could generate power for up to 7,623 homes and will be sited at least 800m away from homes.

The exhibition will give residents a chance to see artists’ impressions of the windfarm.

However, Dr James Lunn, who is Chairman of the Fight Fenrother and Longhorsley Windfarm Group, has criticised the energy company for a lack of publicity about the exhibition, the timing of the event and its choice of location in Tritlington First School.

He said: “This is the community’s chance to see what is being proposed for the area. These are going to be structures that are going to be visible, by the company’s own admission, up to 25 miles away. We feel the company is not trying to make people aware of how bad things are going to become if these turbines are put in place.

“It has done all it can to give as little notice as possible and inform the least number of people as possible about this exhibition, but still continues this charade of public engagement.”

Dr Lunn said previous exhibitions had attracted most people when held in Longhorsley Village Hall.

He added: “We have leafletted about 500 homes to tell people this exhibition is going on. It is being held in the venue that had the least number of people attending when the exhibitions were held in October, at a time when people coming from work won’t be able to get there. We asked the company to have it on a weekend and offered to hold it in a different location, but that has been declined.”

Energiekontor UK Project Manager Sam Dewar said the company had tried to book Longhorsley Village Hall for the exhibition, but it was unavailable and the Tritlington venue was the only other option.

“We did look at Longhorsley Village Hall, but the main hall was being used. The annexe was available, but it wouldn’t be big enough for the amount of people we are expecting.

“That and Tritlington First School were the only two available venues in close proximity to the site and the school has been very good in the past. There is parking available and you can’t really get any closer to the site,” he said.

“In addition to a press release about the exhibition, we have sent posters to six or seven parishes, we have advertised it at Longhorsley school, we updated our website and we emailed the ward councillors.”

He added: “We actually didn’t need to do this exhibition, but we felt as a courtesy we would do that to enable some of the more elderly residents to see some visualisations before we go to planning

“It allows people to get a first look at it before we put in a planning application. On Tuesday, they are going to see information that members of the public wouldn’t normally see until August when the application has been validated.”

Energiekontor reported that 70 per cent of the people who filled in feedback forms at the previous exhibitions were opposed to the windfarm proposal, 21 per cent were in support and nine percent were unsure.

However, the action group says an exit poll showed 79 per cent were against the turbines, with just five percent in support and 16 per cent undecided.

A petition of more than 260 names has been collected against the plans, while the group has received donations from as far afield as Hampshire and the Shetland Isles to support its campaign.

Members say the windfarm would destroy the rural landscape, harm wildlife and bat populations and cause road safety issues as drivers would be distracted. Dr Lunn said one resident has already been told his home would be devalued by around £400,000 if the scheme goes ahead, and the group has commissioned an expert to report on potential health implications.

The exhibition will be held at Tritlington First School on Tuesday, from 5pm to 8pm.

• A SERIES of public exhibitions are taking place to show the details for a proposed windfarm site on the disused Tranwell Airfield.

The Wind Ventures plans for four turbines up to 126m to tip height would have an installed capacity of up to 12 Megawatts (MW) and the potential to generate enough electricity to power 6,300 homes.

Members of the project team will be on hand to answer questions and there will be various displays, including photomontages which show how the proposed wind farm would appear from different viewpoints.

The company expects to lodge a planning application with Northumberland County Council before the end of 2012.

The exhibitions form part of its consultations with residents and local parish councils, which also include a newsletter, a project website, and meetings.

Project Manager Daniel Baird said: “In April, a meteorological mast was erected on the site which is collecting data to be used in the design of the windfarm.

“We are now holding a series of public exhibitions in Stannington, Mitford and Morpeth. These events are very important as local knowledge can help us to ensure that any windfarm on Tranwell Airfield sits well within the surrounding area.

“We are also keen to hear from people about local projects that may be suitable for support from the windfarm’s community trust fund.”

The exhibitions are taking place in Whitehouse Farm Centre, Stannington, today between 4pm and 8pm, Mitford Community Centre tomorrow (Friday) from 4pm to 8pm and Morpeth Town Hall on Saturday between 10am and 2pm.