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Anti-windfarm group predict constructor fight

A North Northumberland group fighting the impact of windfarm expansion in the region is preparing its growing membership for a continued protest against the erection of turbines near Belford.

The Middleton Burn Action Group (MBAG), which has seen its membership rocket to over 400, is keen to protest prospective turbine sites at Swinhoe and Sionside Farms.

The group claims turbines would have a devastating effect on St Cuthbert’s Cave and St Cuthbert’s Way, which passes through the site.

Speaking at the group’s AGM on Friday, chairman Chris Craddock looked to the future, and noted that the group would have to react to Northumberland County Council’s proposed Core Strategy Document.

“This covers all aspects of planning for the county”, he explained, “and part of it relates to industrial-scale wind generation and in particular the separation between such schemes and housing.

“We will be putting forward our view of the council’s proposal, together with recommendations for improving it.

“But,” he conceded, “that is a long-term issue.

“Probably more immediate is the anticipated decision from the Planning Inspectorate on the Belford Burn Mast. We also anticipate both EnergieKontor and Middleton Burn seeking planning permission for their turbine developments. These will be opportunities for us take positive action.”

Windfarm constructors EnergieKontor have declared their intention to hold an exhibition of their plans locally before the Belford Burn application goes in.

Chris urged group members to attend any exhibitions, “to challenge anything they say which may be misleading”.

“When application is made for planning permission, we will all need to write to the council to oppose their plans,” he said. “And there will be other tasks for which we will be seeking help in the near future.

“We hope it will be possible to hold a public meeting in the village at which the proposals can be discussed and at which we can put forward our point of view – if that happens, we will want as many MBAGgers as possible to attend.”

At both sites, MBAG sought permission from landowners to fly a helium blimp at the height of the proposed turbines, to illustrate their impact on the landscape and skyline.

One request, passed on to EnergieKontor, was dismissed out of hand, whilst the other was made subject to such impractical conditions as to be impractical.

Chris summed up: “I said last year we face a ‘phoney war’. The skirmishes have now started and I anticipate it will not be long before battle is joined in earnest. It will demand hard work and dedication, but the prize of defeating the two threats which hang over us will be enormously worthwhile.”