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Saboteurs cut down farm wind mast

A Northumberland farmer has condemned wind turbine saboteurs who attacked a turbine test mast on his land, endangering his animals.

The 50m high “metmast” – which was assessing wind potential for a future turbine – was found to have had five of its 12 wire guide ropes cut after it toppled down in strong winds, landing in a field at Town Foot Farm, West Woodburn, Northumberland.

The mast narrowly missed one of Robert and Jacqueline Raine’s flocks of 140 sheep – but Mr Raine said: “It’s only a miracle that none of them were killed because they were standing around the mast all the time before this happened.

“As far as I’m concerned, wind saboteurs can protest as much as they like – but you can’t do that. It’s not on.”

Northumbria Police is hunting those responsible and appealing for anyone with information to contact them.

“We can confirm that guide ropes on a wind-monitoring mast at a farm in West Woodburn were cut, causing the mast to fall over,” said a spokesman. “Our enquiries are ongoing.”

It’s thought that the ropes could have been cut as long ago as mid-March, and that the mast remained upright until strong winds finally brought it down.

The £15,000 mast – which was put up by Empirica Investments last October – has now been replaced by a similar one with CCTV on it.

Empirica was given planning permission to erect the metmast ahead of a possible application for a single wind turbine.

Northumberland has become a hotspot for anti-wind farm sentiment – and Town Foot Farm is only one mile from the Green Rigg wind farm at Ridsdale, which sparked controversy before being given the go-ahead last year.

“Hill farmers up here are in a lot of difficulty and need all the help they can get – including financial help from wind companies who enable what is, after all, a kind of diversification project,” added Mr Raine.

“The absolutely disgraceful thing about this is that whoever cut the guide ropes did it in a really calculating way – on a peaceful day – so that the mast wouldn’t come down while they were there.”

“The wires are about three-quarters of an inch thick and whoever cut them would have known the mast would eventually come down when the wind got up.

“It’s incredible that some of my sheep were not killed.”