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Battle lines drawn over new wind farm bid in Northumberland

Battle lines are being drawn over plans for nine wind turbines beside the site of one of the UK’s biggest wind developments.

Developer PNE Wind is working on a scheme for turbines on Ditchburn Farm, north of Eglingham, near Alnwick in Northumberland, with the site alongside the 28 operational 125m generators at the Middlemoor and Wandylaw wind farms.

The company says the scheme would generate enough power to generate enough electricity to power more than 17,000 homes and bring benefits to local people.

Yet an action group has been formed to fight the scheme, with members believing their area has suffered enough from the perceived blight of turbines, and that the generators will impact on historic sites, the landscape and on property values.

PNE held a two-day public exhibition on its proposed Ditchburn Wind Farm, with further consultation including meetings with parish councils, planned.

It hopes to submit a planning application to Northumberland County Council by January.

The company says its scheme, which would have an installed capacity of up to 27 Megawatts (MW), comes after wind provided 10% of national electricity in August.

Laura Jeffrey, PNE WIND project manager, said: “If consented, the Ditchburn Wind Farm will further strengthen this contribution and help create a more diverse and stable energy supply.”

The firm says it project would provide a community benefit fund of £5,000 per installed MW and that there would be contract opportunities for local businesses during construction.

Yet locals have formed the Ditchburn Action Group to fight the proposals. The group believes the area has done more than enough in terms of its contribution to renewable energy, with the 18 turbine RWE Innogy Middlemoor project and 10 generators of Blue Energy at Wandylaw beside the Ditchburn site.

Chairman David Biesterfield, a solicitor whose home at Eglingham would be around a mile from the proposed site, said: “They were granted on the basis that was enough.

“No-one can accuse the people of South Charlton, Middleton of nimbyism because we already have one of the largest operational onshore wind farms in England.

“Northumberland has already suffered enough.”

Mr Biesterfield added: “It is an appalling scheme. It also has a significant impact on various sites such as Ros Castle, the national park and the area of outstanding natural beauty, the Ringses iron age camp, various other iron age farm steads, the iron age fort at Beanley, all of these are significant, scheduled ancient monuments.

“This is a huge development which will have a huge catastrophic impact. Very shortly we are going to have no unspoilt landscape left.”

He also raised fears the scheme would bring down property values.