A couple fighting plans for a wind farm close to their home have been advised to grow a 17ft-high hedge if they do not want to look out at the massive turbines.
Martin and Sarah Shotton were left amazed and angry by the suggestion, which has been made part of the evidence submitted to a looming public inquiry into the controversial green energy scheme.
The couple, who enjoy a panoramic view out towards the coastline from their isolated cottage near Longhorsley, Northumberland, are among hundreds of people opposing the wind farm bid by Energiekontor UK.
It involves the construction of five turbines, each 126 metres tall, on farmland between Longhorsley and the neighbouring hamlet of Fenrother.
Planning permission was refused by the county council earlier this year, after the scheme sparked more than 1,600 letters of protest.
Energiekontor appealed and a six-day public inquiry will be held in Morpeth later this month.
In evidence submitted to the inquiry, landscape architects acting on behalf of the company say Mr and Mrs Shotton’s Moor Edge Cottage, next to the A697, has direct views towards the proposed turbines.
The document says that if a conifer hedgerow, which has been planted around the boundary of their garden, was allowed to grow to 5.4 metres (17ft 7ins) it would “screen all views of the turbines.”
It also says further tree planting near the boundary of their garden, or closer to the house, would help to screen views within about eight years.
The couple, who live with their sons James, 21, and William, 15, together with another local wind farm opponent, have criticised the statements.
Mr Shotton, 48, who runs his own building company, said: “I think this is totally outrageous and absolutely farcical. It shows that Energiekontor are clutching at straws.
“Our hedge was planted three years ago, and is currently less than a metre high. They are suggesting we let it grow to 5.4m, which is higher than some prison walls. We would feel like prison inmates with a hedge that high. We live in the countryside and we bought the property partly because of the views. This would completely ruin them.”
Dr James Lunn, who lives in Fenrother and heads the local action group opposing the wind farm scheme, said: “This is one of the most disingenuous statements I have ever come across in wind farm application, and is a great insult to local people.
“It is a mark of Energiekontor’s desperation and arrogance that a suggestion like this is even made.”
Energiekontor project manager, Sam Dewar, said: “We still believe that our environmental impact assessment, as submitted to the planning authority in August 2012, demonstrates that the relationship between this property and the proposed wind farm would be acceptable, even as things stand now.
“The extra evidence which has been submitted to the inquiry basically states that if the existing hedgerow were to be allowed to continue growing, and exceed 5.4 metres in height, then all views to the wind farm would be screened. This is a matter of fact, rather than a suggestion or request.”
Edited by Sunita Patel-Carstairs
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