Mixed response to windfarm

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RESIDENTS have given a mixed response to windfarm plans, with some saying they are in favour of the proposals.

Peel Energy is expected to submit a scheme for up to 13 turbines by the end of the year.

The bid is integrated into the Blue Sky Forest (BSF) project, which is being led by the Widdrington Regeneration Partnership and is for an ambitious multi-million pound venture to transform former open cast areas at Steadshead, Stobswood and Maidens Hall, into sports, tourism and leisure facilities.

It will be lodged as a separate application.

Advanced plans for the windfarm went on show in a number of villages last week, including Ulgham, Widdrington Village, Widdrington Station and Hadston.

At the exhibition in Hadston, a number of people said they supported of the turbines.

Val Hardy, from Hadston, said: “I think it is fantastic. I have no problem with the windfarm at all – I think the turbines look quite nice.”

Peel Energy has said that it is committed to establishing a Community Benefit Fund to help local people undertake community projects. The fund would be managed and used exclusively by the community, and would become available once the windfarm is up and running.

The company is also proposing to set up a co-operative to enable the local community to buy shares and benefit financially for the windfarm.

Red Row resident Margaret Weaver said: “There will also be money coming into the community, specifically for community use. That’s not something to be sniffed at.

“I have no issue with them. The turbines are further away from the road than I thought they would be and it seems to me that they are further away from houses.”

However, Peter Kull, from Hadston, wasn’t so sure about the scheme, saying the turbines would ‘devastate the area’.

“I remember when this was all going to happen originally and there were no wind turbines discussed. They have got money in place for the hotels and the golf courses. Now they say this can’t go ahead without the wind turbines which is absolutely disgusting.

“I would like to see the Blue Sky Forest project happen first. The turbines aren’t viable. There’s hidden costs and the costs will come back into people’s energy bills.”

Mr Kull also said that the area was being saturated with turbines and applications for windfarms.

“The area is taking on too many wind turbines. There are too many sites in one of the most beautiful parts of the country.”

Peel Energy say that delivery of the windfarm would be the first phase of the BSF project and would lay the foundations for the rest of the development by installing access roads and essential electricity connections which could be used by other partners.

The turbines would be up to 126.5 metres high to the tip of the blade and the windfarm would generate enough electricity to meet the average needs of approximately 15,500 homes.

Patrick Keogh, development manager for Peel Energy, said that the company was still analysing the results from the exhibitions but said that he felt they had gone well.

He said: “We were very pleased with the turnout, it was larger than we expected, and it seemed to be largely positive. In general, the comments were positive.

“Clearly there are those who are against windturbines but I think, in principal, the majority are very much in favour and recognise the energy gap and recognise that something needs to be done.”