A man whose wife was airlifted to hospital following a serious road accident fears the dangers posed to drivers on the route will be made worse if five massive wind turbines are built nearby.
Retired fire officer Bob Forster, 56, had been concerned for some time about the potential distraction for motorists from the 126m (413ft) turbines proposed for land next to the busy A697, north of Morpeth.
Now he is even more worried after his wife Irene, 57, spent five days in hospital following the three-vehicle smash at the Fieldhead junction near the village of Longhorsley earlier this month.
Mrs Forster’s car was hit from behind by a minibus and shunted into the path of an oncoming vehicle while she waited at the junction.
It was one of three serious accidents on the same stretch of the road in nine days. Two of them resulted in fatalities.
Mrs Forster suffered broken ribs, severe bruising to her abdomen and a swollen face, but her husband, who worked for the Tyne and Wear fire service for 31 years, says she could have been killed.
He says drivers on that stretch of the A697 are already distracted by the panoramic views and claims adding five large turbines to the vista will make matters worse.
The couple, who have lived in the area for 24 years, are opposing plans by renewables company Energiekontor UK to build the wind farm between Longhorsley and the nearby hamlet of Fenrother. Mr Forster said there have been several fatalities and numerous accidents on the A697 near Fenrother and Fieldhead over the years.
But he says at a recent public exhibition of the wind farm plans, an Energiekontor representative claimed the turbines would cause no distraction to drivers.
“I am horrified thinking about this, especially after my wife’s accident, when she was very, very lucky not to be killed,” Mr Forster said. “I believe drivers are already distracted on that bit of road and I’m convinced there will be more accidents if these turbines go up.
“Drivers have such a lovely view out towards the coast and get distracted. If you put five massive turbines in, it is bound to make people take their eyes off the road even more. They will be a huge distraction, with the potential for more fatalities and serious accidents.”
Energiekontor is currently assessing wind conditions at Fenrother, and has been consulting local people about its five-turbine scheme.
Yesterday project manager, Sam Dewar, said: “Drivers are required to take reasonable care to ensure their own and others safety, and wind turbines should therefore not be treated any differently from other distractions a driver must face, and should not be considered particularly hazardous.
“In addition, there are now a large number of wind farms adjoining or close to road networks, and there has been no history of accidents at any of them.
“A piece of research was undertaken by Faber Maunsell in 2004, reviewing accident records surrounding wind farms. The results showed no significant increase between the number of accidents before and after the construction of the wind farm. In one occasion there was a decrease.”
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