THE sleepy hamlet of Fenrother has been revealed as the latest target for windfarm developers.
European company Energiekontor UK has announced plans for five turbines in an area just north of the community and south of the nearby village of Longhorsley.
Developers say the scheme could generate enough power for up to 7,623 households and the turbines would be sited at least 800m from homes.
But many locals are alarmed at the proposals, saying the turbines would be among the highest in the country at six-and-a-half times the height of the Angel of the North.
Dr James Lunn, who lives in Fenrother, said: “We are all horrified. There are only 14 houses in our little hamlet and we live there because we really enjoy the rural life.
“It is so flat around here and we are worried about the wildlife and the bat population.
“These turbines are going to be within a few hundred metres of houses where the nearest large feature so far is a tree.”
Dr Lunn is also worried that the windfarm would add to road safety concerns in the area as the turbines would be sited alongside the A1 and could distract drivers.
“This is already a dangerous road with multiple signs saying how many people have been killed there and this is going to provide another distraction, making the road even more dangerous,” he said.
“With all the applications for these things coming in they are going to be the first and last thing anybody visiting Northumberland for tourism is going to see.
“This is not a personal thing against the applicants, but developers seem to be targeting Northumberland with these monstrosities without any consideration for the local communities in which they sit.”
The objectors have set up a website – www.fightfenrotherwindfarm.co.uk – to drum up more opposition to the plans and say residents of Hebron, Longhorsley and Rothbury have already expressed concern.
Energiekontor, whose UK arm is based in North Yorkshire, says the site is a suitable location for a windfarm and the plans have evolved considerably to present the most appropriate scheme for the area.
Project Manager Sam Dewar said: “The site is of a flat open nature and the NOABL index indicates that there is a good wind resource that will enable the production of significant amounts of electricity.
“The site is located within the Morpeth Local Plan Wind Farm Area of Search and is not located within an area designated as green belt or other sensitive landscape or wildlife protection designation.
“We have set a minimum distance of 800m, approximately half a mile, between turbines and off-site properties and in most circumstances this distance is even greater.
“The number of turbines proposed has been reduced to ensure this and it is considered that these distances will help considerably in retaining existing residential amenity.”
He added: “Discussions have been undertaken with the Local Planning Authority and a pre-application enquiry was submitted in August. The local parish councils have also been informed and will form part of our extensive community engagement process.”
Two public exhibitions will take place next week to introduce the scheme to residents and all those living within 5km of the proposed site have been sent a project newsletter and consultation invitation.
Longhorsley Parish Council Chairman Iain Elliott said: “The parish council hasn’t discussed this and it is not even on the agenda because it has not been put to us in any formal consultation yet.
“When the parish council has been consulted on windfarms in the past they have been to the west of us and we really concentrated on the traffic issues through the village for construction.
“That has been our reservation and objection to the earlier proposals, but this one is completely different because access will be directly from the A1 so the traffic won’t come anywhere near the village.
“The only issue for the parish council will be the visual impact and I’m sure there will be those for and those against.
“The parish council doesn’t have any view for or against windfarms, there are benefits and disadvantages and some people like seeing them and some people don’t.
“When the time comes, if they proceed with a planning application, we will seek the views of councillors. This one is nearer to the village and certainly within sight of the village whereas the others were not so there is a difference and I’m sure we will get a mixture of opinions.”
The exhibitions will be held at Tritlington C of E First School on Wednesday and Longhorsley Village Hall on Thursday.
Both events will run between 5pm and 8pm.
l Protest group launched – see Page 3