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Windfarm will ‘harm health of residents’

A care home boss claims a proposed windfarm could harm the health of her residents and force job losses.

Julie Walsh, proprietor of Virginia Lodge in Longtown, made the remarks on the first day of a public enquiry into a development at Hallburn Farm.

This is examining the rejection of an application to build six turbines there.

Each of these would be three times the height of Carlisle’s Civic Centre.

The application was submitted by energy firm REG Windpower.

Mrs Walsh’s business is within 1.5km (just under one mile) of one of the proposed structures. It provides long-term and respite care for the elderly.

She told the inquiry: “Many of my residents suffer from dementia and are unable to express their thoughts and feelings; I am here on their behalf.

“They would not wish their quality of life to be compromised by the turbines.”

She cited several studies from Britain, France and the USA, which stated that people living near windfarms suffered health problems.

Chief among these was being unable to sleep because of noise and flickering shadows as a result of the turbine blades.

She also said turbines increased stress, which can lead to cardiovascular problems, and that they would spoil the view around the home.

“As well as a home for 32 vulnerable, elderly adults we have also provided employment for over 20 years for the local community,” she added. “We currently employ 35 staff.

“If the windfarms were to have a detrimental effect on the residents and environment then residents would choose not to live here.

“We would then have no choice but to cut back on staff.”

The proposed scheme was originally rejected on four grounds; that ‘seismic noise’ from the turbines could interfere with nuclear test monitoring equipment at a Ministry of Defence (MoD) site at Eskdalemuir, near Langholm; the turbines would interfere with air traffic radar; effect on bird species and the Hadrian’s Wall heritage site.

The MoD, RSPB and English Heritagehave since withdrawn their objections. REG Windpower is now arguing that the turbines would not prevent the site in Langholm from operating effectively and should be allowed to go ahead.

Three others from Longtown at the Civic Centre yesterday spoke against the scheme.

Eileen Naude, of Esk Bank, was concerned about the impact on scenery and pointed out that abnormal load traffic accessing the farm would need to travel down Swanmoor Road, which is currently in a bad state of repair.

Karen Johnson, representing Arthuret Parish Council, echoed many of these points, adding that the organisation had spoken to many members of the public who were against the proposal. Several parish councillors were in the audience.

John Parrat of Oakwood, near Longtown, commented: “It may be that English Heritage and the RSPB have withdraw their objections but that does not mean residents are without their objections and we have a right to be heard.”

He criticised the effects the proposed development would have on the local environment.

The enquiry continues today.