Residents are furious that an MP has given her backing to proposals for a wind farm they vehemently object to.
Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman released a statement yesterday (Monday, September 1) saying the potential positive impact on local communities had won her over.
County Durham firm Banks Renewables say the installation of four 125m high wind turbines, near Hamsterley Forest, could bring £70,000 a year into the area via a community benefits fund.
Hamsterley Parish Councillor Jonathan Peacock said: “I was very surprised to hear that Helen Goodman had given her backing, it seems that she is determined to fly in the face of her constituents.
“Seven local parishes have all expressed their objection to the plans, writing letters saying that they don’t approve and that it is the wrong thing in the wrong place.
“I’m surprised that she is ignoring what ordinary people want.”
Jane Bee, chairman of Hamsterley Parish Council, said: “It’s very easy for people unconnected with the village to comment, they don’t have to live here and Helen Goodman is obviously not supporting the views of Hamsterley.
“I’ve yet to meet any person who is in favour of the wind farm.”
In response, Ms Goodman said: “Rural areas such as ours suffer disproportionately on a number of different fronts, including specific issues around skills development, employability and fuel poverty, and Government funding for projects addressing these areas will remain very stretched for the foreseeable future.
“The resources that the Windy Bank community benefits fund would make available locally could make a huge difference to the lives of many people in different parts of our community, and I’m keen to see how the proposals Banks has worked up in response to comments they’ve had from local people could be brought to life using money drawn from this fund.
“As someone who is in favour of renewable energy and onshore wind farms, and of the communities in which such schemes are based benefitting from their development, I’m firmly in favour of the Windy Bank Wind Farm going forward and would hope that Durham County Council will agree with my views.”
However, Cllr Peacock said: “As an area we are very dependent on tourism and we don’t need an industrialisation in the west side of the county.
“I think anybody who expresses an opinion should get to know what they are recommending. I am not aware that she has read all the documents.”
The next step in the planning process is for the application to be discussed at a meeting of Durham County Council’s Planning Committee which Banks say should take place by the end of the year.
To view the planning application online, visit spatial.durham.gov.uk/dcs/SearchMain.asp and search for application reference number CMA/6/48.