RESIDENTS fighting a bid for a new windfarm have received backing from two groups set up to oppose plans for turbines in their communities.
The recently established Tranwell Windfarm Action Group (TWAG) is co-ordinating a campaign against the proposal by Wind Ventures for four turbines in the area, up to 126m high.
Many people living in Meldon, Mitford, Stannington and Whalton have already submitted objections.
They say the turbines would negatively dominate the landscape, be installed within a proposed extension to the green belt, produce unacceptable noise levels and have an adverse impact on tourism.
Advice has now been provided by Action for Rural Morpeth (ARM), which was formed to oppose TNEI Services’ windfarm plans for a field between Molesden and the East and West Edington Farms, which is only about a mile north of Tranwell Airfield.
In August 2011, the county council’s Planning and Environment Committee granted permission for a test mast to be installed at the site, albeit by only one vote.
An application for wind turbines has yet to be submitted.
Despite this, ARM has been busy commissioning reports and putting forward potential wind energy policies in response to the authority’s initial Core Strategy consultation after it linked up with the Northumberland Energy Policy Group of the Northumberland and Newcastle Society.
Members were encouraged by the latest document, which said that future large-scale windfarm applications would have to consider the cumulative impact of other consented schemes in the area and suggested a minimum separation distance between turbines and homes of six times the turbine height.
ARM Chairman Lester Sher said: “We have still been active over the last 12 months in regard to the issue of looking at how we can have a green energy strategy that also protects the county’s rural residents.
“When the Tranwell application was submitted, we held a meeting with the parish councils and residents to explain how the process works and what they needed to do for a campaign.
“We also made it clear that under our constitution, we couldn’t do the work.
“But I’m pleased to see that TWAG has got off to a flying start and we wish its members all the best.
“It will be a tough fight for them because the application is likely to be considered before the new Local Development Framework is adopted, which will make it harder for these types of windfarms to get planning permission in Northumberland.”
Dr James Lunn, who led a successful campaign to stop a scheme being built near Longhorsley, was among the guests that attended a public meeting in Stannington about the application.
He said: “I’m happy to provide this group with whatever advice and information they need to get up and running and then raise awareness of the issue in their communities.
“TWAG must carry out the campaign themselves, but the members are well organised and I’m sure they will get a lot of support from other residents.
“The saturation point for windfarms in Northumberland has been reached so hopefully this application will be refused.
“We don’t want to see a ring of turbines surrounding Morpeth.”
He added that it would be useful for a public meeting to take place before the plans are determined, as happened with Energiekontor UK’s application for five turbines at Fenrother that he and many others fought against.
Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee will decide upon its response to the Wind Ventures bid at its next meeting.
During its most recent session, Coun David Parker said there will be an impact on the town as it is proposed to use part of the A197 road to transport the equipment to the site, turning off at the B6524 near Morpeth Golf Club.
Coun Dave Herne said it would be better to go through countryside roads, but he thinks it would be impossible for the large vehicles transporting the turbine parts because there are a number of 90-degree turns which they could not navigate.
At a meeting last week, Northumberland County Council planners agreed to hold a site visit and public meeting about the application if required, although dates are yet to be set.