Turbine plans are met with more opposition

MORE opposition has been lodged to plans for a windfarm at Tranwell.

Applicant Wind Ventures is seeking permission for four turbines, 126.5m tall, to be sited at the former Tranwell Airfield.

The proposal has already generated strong community opposition, with action groups working together to stop the plans and Mitford, Meldon, Stannington and Whalton parish councils all coming out in objection.

Now Morpeth Town Council has joined the ranks.

Although the site is outside the authority’s boundary, it can comment on any issues that affect its residents.

And members of the town’s Planning and Transport Committee have listed a number of concerns, from the potential impact on tourism to causing problems on the roads.

Councillors were also dismayed to hear that plans to install a grid connection from Tranwell to Coopies Lane will be subject to a separate application and do not form part of the main windfarm proposal.

Coun David Parker said: “We could be faced with pylons from the Whalton area to Coopies Lane in a separate application.

“We should object on the grounds that the grid application is not coming forward now. It should be done at the same time so that we and anybody else can consider it because there is going to be quite an impact if we have pylons all the way from Tranwell.”

Coun Parker was equally concerned about the impact on Morpeth roads as construction traffic for the windfarm would travel through the area along the A197.

“They are proposing to come through a heavily-populated area and I know from talking to residents in my area that roads are their biggest concern,” he said.

“I know from other sites where turbines have been put in that the roads do get a lot of bashing. This will happen here as well. The A197 was re-laid about two years ago. They did it through the night and it wasn’t easy so we don’t want it disrupted again.”

He also mentioned the potential for more noise disturbance from traffic.

Coun Dave Herne, who attended a briefing at Morpeth Golf Club about the plans, said: “I did mention concern about the transport route and unfortunately it is the only feasible route.

“I said we had serious concerns about it being the main route for children going to and from school and that at peak periods it is very busy. They did say that all vehicle movements would be done at non-peak times and non-school times and the large vehicles would be escorted by the police.”

He also spoke of the importance of securing a decommissioning bond for the turbines if the scheme is approved.

Coun Ken Brown said the turbines would be seven times the height of Morpeth Clock Tower and his suggestion that a crane be erected at the Tranwell site so that people could assess the visual impact of the scheme was put to Wind Ventures at the briefing.

He said: “The development is going to have a significant impact on Morpeth because of the subsequent connection to the grid, and the timetable for the development could coincide with the timetable for the development of the flood alleviation scheme in the same kind of area.

“We have to bear in mind that these things are going to be visible for miles and miles around. We have got to question what impact that will have on tourism and the local economy.”

The committee decided to object to the application over the potential impact on tourism and visual impact, highways concerns and potential traffic noise, and said that the grid connection application should be submitted simultaneously.

A copy of the council’s windfarm policy, which formed part of its response to the Core Strategy, will be included with the objection, highlighting issues such as the need for turbine separation distances from property, impact on sensitive sites and cumulative impact.

Councillors also requested that a decommissioning bond is put in place if the plans are approved by Northumberland County Council.

Meanwhile, the Tranwell Windfarm Action Group campaign continues to gather momentum. It has received support from Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery and the Duke of Northumberland and an extra 1,275 leaflets have recently been circulated in the area.

To help with its fund-raising, a race night and quiz night will take place at the Char Mausum restaurant, Stannington Station Road End, on Monday, March 18, and Monday, April 1, respectively.

For more information about how to attend, and the group’s activities in general, visit www.tranwellwindfarm.co.uk