Residents set out their opposition to ‘inappropriate’ windfarm plans

Those who came along to the public session at the Fenrother windfarm appeal hearing.
Those who came along to the public session at the Fenrother windfarm appeal hearing.

RESIDENTS got the chance to have their say over windfarm plans for a site on the edge of Morpeth during an appeal hearing.

People living in Fenrother and Fieldhead were jubilant in January after Northumberland County Council rejected plans for five 126.5metre-high turbines to be sited in nearby farmland.

However, that was not the end of the story as applicant Energiekontor UK took the matter to appeal.

At the sessions in Morpeth Town Hall, it has argued that the development complies with national planning policies, but the majority of people who spoke at the section of the hearing for members of the public believe that the site is inappropriate for a windfarm.

Michael Henderson, who has lived in Fenrother for 17 years, said: “If you work hard and save, you can provide a lovely home for your family.

“I did that and over the years we have enjoyed the views which come with living in the countryside.

“The proposed turbines are going to tower over our homes and the fields where we walk.

“They will dominate the local scenery and no matter which way you go, they will be there.

“I imagine that if the windfarm is approved, in 25 years’ time there will be a ceremony to celebrate it being taken down. However, not many of the people here tonight will be there to see it.

Fellow Fenrother resident Dale Aitkenhead said: “I have just the one window which looks north and it has a beautiful view of the North East countryside.

“This would be completely spoiled if the turbines are put in place.”

As well as agreeing with the points raised by others, John Corrigan of Fieldhead explained that the paddocks and stables on his land are frequently used for archery training as he and his daughter compete in competitions across the country.

“This has not been assessed as amenity space by Energiekontor and therefore I don’t believe that my property has been adequately assessed by the company,” he added.

“The windfarm would have a significant adverse impact on this land as it would cause major disruption to our training.”

Pat Turnbull, a Fenrother resident, said: “If the windfarm is approved, every time I leave and approach my home, or even make a cup of tea and look out the kitchen window, I would be able to see overbearing turbines.

“Energiekontor doesn’t care about how they would affect our lives.”

She and a few other speakers, including Dr Gemma Lunn, said that there had been a lack of community engagement from the company and residents have not had the chance to shape the proposals in any way because they have been ignored.

Tim Jobling-Purser, who lives near Longhorsley, raised a highway safety issue.

He said: “Part of the A697 road between Gorfenletch and Longhorsley is in a poor condition because it is at a height and is affected by the elements and a number of accidents have happened as a result.

“If the turbines are built, motorists will be confronted with an appalling distraction and there will undoubtedly be more accidents in this area.”

Residents from other parts of Northumberland spoke of their opposition to the bid.

John Thompson, of Wingates, where an application for six turbines was approved two years ago, said: “The reality compared to the windfarm visualisations are poles apart.

“If I had a pound for every time someone said ‘I didn’t think it would look like that’ or ‘I didn’t expect to see the turbines from so far away’, I would be rich enough to compensate all the residents who have suffered from a drop in the valuation of their property.”

Steve Lloyd, who lives in Molesden, said that the Morpeth area would suffer damage to its economy and quality of life if windfarms are approved at various sites on the edge of the town.

However, there were some speakers in support of the windfarm application on the night.

Causey Park resident Peter Hogg said: “The countryside has always provided food, goods and materials to towns and cities.

“We’re now being called upon to supply clean energy. Once we have used up all the oil, as one person said, tomorrow will be very different from today.”

Hillary Turnbull asked the inspector to take into account that if the application is approved, there would be a community fund of up to £45,000 a year for the Greater Morpeth Development Trust.