A COMMUNITY group behind major tourism and leisure plans has voted against a windfarm scheme — despite it being the first phase of the ambitious project.
The Widdrington Regeneration Partnership (WRP) has said that it cannot support Peel Energy’s bid for 13, 126.5-metre-high turbines between Hadston and Widdrington because there are already too many in the area.
It follows concerns raised at Monday’s meeting of the Druridge Bay Parish Council Cluster, which were then fed to a WRP meeting afterwards.
Peel Energy’s proposal, which has been submitted to Northumberland County Council, is part of the Blue Sky Forest (BSF) project, which is being led by WRP.
The turbines would be the first phase, installing the infrastructure for the multi-million-pound BSF scheme, which would include a golf course and 300-bed hotel.
Peel Energy says this will reduce construction time for the rest of the project and save thousands of pounds in initial costs.
But Val Seddon, Chairman of WRP, said: “People reported that there had been a lot of concern expressed about the number of wind turbines in the area because we have got the ones in Ellington, and the Infinis scheme for four turbines (on the edge of Widdrington Village) has just been approved by the county council. Now there is the Peel Energy application.
“This is a very small area and there are more than enough within it.
“The decision was that we will not support any more turbines within this area.
“There was concern expressed to the parish councils from residents about the whole situation. The WRP is there to speak for the community and if the public don’t support something then the WRP won’t promote it and won’t support it.
“We will be writing to Peel Energy and UK Coal (landowner) to tell them what the situation is.”
Val said the county council had been ‘short-sighted’ for approving the Infinis scheme last month when the Peel Energy application had also been submitted.
Even Peel Energy argued that the Infinis proposal should have been considered alongside its own plans due to the potential for cumulative impact but county planners rejected this as Peel had only just submitted the plans and they had not been validated.
Val said: “Peel Energy did have support when it went out to the public last year, but sadly, because the Infinis turbines have been approved, the support for any more turbines has disappeared almost completely.”
The Peel Energy application is currently out for consultation, as part of the planning process, and Val has requested that the deadline for comments be extended to the end of March because ‘extra time is needed to consider it’.
She urged residents wanting to view it to attend the Thursday, March 8, meeting of Widdrington Village Parish Council – of which she is chairman – starting at 7.30pm at Widdrington WI Hall.
The document is also available to view at Hadston House.
Coun Scott Dickinson, chairman of the parish council cluster, said the windfarm would ‘ruin our countryside’, and the plans did not relate to the wider project and ‘seemed to confirm my concerns that we could be left with another unwanted windfarm and nothing more’.
He added that all the residents he had spoken to – except one – were against the turbines.
A Peel Energy spokesman said the company would comment once it had received comments from the WRP.
Of the Infinis scheme, a county council spokeswoman said applications are determined as they are presented and ‘in a timely manner’ and wind turbine applications are assessed on their own merits, in conjunction with relevant planning policies.