An angry farmer has hit out at wind farm saboteurs who attacked a turbine test mast on his land and endangered his livestock.
The 50-metre mast had five of its 12 wire guide ropes cut and in strong winds it toppled across his land.
By a miracle, the toppling mast missed all of his sheep flock but Mr Raine said: “The sheep are standing around it all the time and it is only by good fortune that none of them were killed.
“Protest as much as you want – but you can’t do that.”
Police are now investigating the incident at Town Foot Farm, West Woodburn, in Northumberland.
A Northumbria force spokesman said: “Guide ropes were cut on a wind-monitoring mast on land at West Woodburn, causing the mast to fall over. Police enquiries are ongoing.”
It is thought the ropes could have been cut as long ago as mid-March, but the mast held steady until the arrival of the recent strong winds.
The £15,000 mast has now been replaced by the energy company which had been given permission to place the metmast ahead of a possible application for a single wind turbine.
The site stands only one mile from the Green Rigg wind farm at Ridsdale, which attracted much antagonism before being given the go-ahead last year.
The metmast, which trials wind conditions for power potential, was put up at Town Foot with permission last October but the sabotage is believed to have been carried out within the past few weeks.
“Whoever cut the guide ropes did it on a peaceful day,” Mr Raine added. “But when the wind came up this week it blew over.
“I went up to my hill sheep and noticed the mast had a bit of a twist on, but there was a wind up and I thought no more of it.
“My son came in later and said ‘the mast has a right lean on’ – and it was after that that the wind brought it down.
“The wires are about three-quarters of an inch thick and whoever cut them would have known a strong wind would eventually bring it down. But it is only luck that some of my sheep were not killed.”
The sabotage was raised at Corsenside Parish Council’s monthly meeting this week.
County councillor John Riddle, a farmer at Bellingham, said: “The mast fell down and when it was investigated, it was found that five of the 12 guide ropes had been cut.
“As soon as a bit of strong wind came, down she went. These masts are worth £15,000 but it has now been replaced and there is CCTV on it. There is a police investigation, but we do not know who was responsible.”