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Wind farm developer stops Northumberland campaigners’ blimp protest

A wind farm developer has stopped Northumberland campaigners fighting its turbine plans from flying a blimp in protest.

Energiekontor UK Ltd has rejected the request from residents at Belford, who wanted to illustrate the 100m height of its nine proposed engines.

After the refusal, villagers roped in their MP Sir Alan Beith, who has written to the company asking it to allow a blimp to be flown.

The campaigners – The Middleton Burn Action Group – are waiting to find out whether they will be given permission to fly another at the site of a further 16 125m turbines close to the village.

The action group was originally set up to oppose plans from Air Farmers Ltd, now Middleton Burn Ltd, for those 16 turbines, but it broadened its remit when the Energiekontor scheme for a wind farms at Belford Burn emerged.

Neither company has submitted a planning application to date.

The group wrote to landowners involved in both projects and asked their permission to be allowed to fly blimps at the sites.

It is keen to employ such a tactic both now, and ahead of the planning applications being lodged, and in future should councillors hold site visits.

In the case of the Energiekontor scheme, the landowner said it would be a decision for the company, and when the group asked the developer it was told permission would not be given.

The group contacted Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith, who agreed to write to the company requesting it reconsider. The MP has yet to receive a response.

Group vice chairman Kerry Noble, who lives in Belford, last night said: “We all know why they do not want to fly a blimp.

“It is painfully obvious, they always play down the height of these things and when you put a blimp up it gives residents the opportunity to actually see how tall these things are going to be towering above this village.”

Energiekontor failed to respond to The Journal’s request for a comment.

In the case of the Middleton Burn project, the group received a reply from landowner Alastair Nixon of Swinhoe Farm, to which it sent a response, but has to still to receive an answer to its request.

Mr Nixon last night told The Journal he was not in a position to grant or decline the group’s request, and that he had passed it to Air Farmers which would be contacting campaigners shortly.

Mr Noble meanwhile revealed the group is considering other ways of demonstrating the height of the proposed turbines.

He said members may employ microlights to release smoke bombs from, or helicopters to hover at, the relevant heights.

Mr Noble said: “I can not think of a more improper site for an industrial wind farm than slap bang in the middle of the Kyloe Hills Area of High Landscape Value, which will be seen from Holy Island to Berwick, they will be seen from every position from the Cheviots to the national park.

“It is just absolutely unbelievably wrong, it is far too close to habitation.”