September 19, 2012

Otterburn Parish Council seeks compensation over turbine crash

by Paul Tully, The Journal | 19 September 2012

A parish council in Northumberland is demanding compensation from an energy giant following the turbine transporter crash which turned a village into a “ghost town”.

Otterburn Parish Council is seeking recompense from EDF Energy Renewables for the disruption to the village after the accident in May.

Three traders in Otterburn last week received payouts from EDF’s contracted hauliers McFadyens, of Campbeltown, Scotland, for losses caused by the five-day repairs closure of the main A696 road into the village.

The parish council, however, has received no response to two applications to EDF for compensation.

Council chairman John Hartshorne said: “What is becoming patently obvious is that there is very little intention of addressing the issue of the community.

“In the five days of the closure of the A696, the community of Otterburn was isolated. There was a lot of uncertainty and a lot of worry.

“People were unable to use the local transport system, even though the bus company, Snaiths, did its damnedest to help. But the village became a ghost town, and there were a lot of problems and inconvenience.”

The problems began when an abnormal-load turbine tower transporter came off the A696 at Blaxter on May 28, toppling into a ditch and damaging the road surface, which was closed for five working days for repairs.

The turbine tower was en route from Blyth to the Green Rigg wind farm site at Ridsdale, using a “safe” route recommended by the county council as an alternative to the A68.

The owners of Otterburn’s woollen mill, village shop and inn enlisted the help of Hexham MP Guy Opperman to win compensation claims from the hauliers over lost trade.

Now the parish council wants similar recompense, and Coun Hartshorne added: “We are looking for an acknowledgement that there was massive inconvenience and we are looking for some compensation, not for individuals, but for the community.

“We have suggested three ways this could be done – some help for the RTC sports centre, which has had a number of problems; a contribution towards a pedestrian crossing in the middle of the village; or improvements at the Millennium Green play area.

“There is a whole rack of options for EDF to consider. But the community fund that energy companies put in place would be for the Corsenside area around the wind farm, and not for Otterburn.

“I think the money should come out of the pocket of EDF directly, and we should get something. EDF needs to acknowledge and recognise the upheaval and disruption.

“Compensation was basically promised at the public meeting with EDF and McFadyens in Otterburn in July but we have heard not a thing from them since.”

Parish clerk Martin Chilvers said emails were sent to EDF three weeks ago.

EDF Energy Renewables were unavailable for comment last night.

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