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Parish councils unite against wind farm plans

Parish councils across the Durham dales have united against plans for a wind farm.

More than 20 parish councils and other community groups are objecting to the plans by Banks Renewables which is proposing to build the Windy Bank wind farm on agricultural land between Woodland Village and the edge of Hamsterley Forest, in Teesdale, County Durham.

The group plans to erect four 125m wind turbines on the site which they say will create about 30 jobs and benefit the area’s businesses with their associated community benefits fund which would be worth about £70,000 every year.

However, residents have submitted more than 200 complaints to Durham County Council saying it will damage the area’s beauty as well as harm tourism.

They are also being supported by the Hamsterley & Upper Gaunless Action Group (HUGAG), which has objected to the plans for five years saying Banks have “over stepped the mark and must be stopped”.

They also criticised the 80 letters supporting the application, claiming they have been submitted by either a Banks employee, their relatives or a business associated with the group.

Hamsterley Parish councillor, Jonathan Peacock, said: “We are grateful for the support of all parish councils.

“The developers are desperate to get into the dale because it’s a whole countryside that they could litter with these turbines but there’s a sense of holding the line because parish councillors see that these people are rapacious.”

He added: “They offer these bribes but it’s a tiny amount of money for them.”

Teesdale Local Council Forum chairman, Ted Henderson, shared Cllr Peacock’s concerns saying he had 42 forum members object to the plans.

“We rely on the tourism now so unfortunately these wind farms make a blot on the landscape,” he said.

“We feel as a group that it’s the wrong thing to do.”

Residents previously said they were furious with Bishop Auckland MP, Helen Goodman, who made a u-turn after coming out in support of the plans in September.

Stainton Quarry, near Barnard Castle, has also recently said it is backing the project.

Miles Crossley, senior business development manager at Banks Renewables, said: “While we respect the right of everyone to express their views about any of our projects, our discussions with many local people in the communities surrounding the Windy Bank site would suggest that the parish councils’ views are far from universally held in their respective areas.”