Bill discount is unveiled

THE companies behind a proposed windfarm in Northumberland have revealed that people living and working in a close proximity to it would benefit from reduced energy costs if it is approved.

The Rayburn scheme is a joint five-turbine venture (each up to 127metres in height to blade tip) between British renewable energy company RES and BT. The site is 2km to the north of Netherwitton and 5km south of Wingates.

Most of the nearby properties would have £165 taken off their electricity bill each year under the Local Electricity Discount Scheme (LEDS) initiative, but a significant number of local residents are still against the plans and more than 40 objections have been lodged with Northumberland County Council.

According to RES, if planning permission is granted, around 180 residential, commercial and community properties on mains electricity within 4km of the five turbines would receive the annual discount once the windfarm is fully operational.

It has written directly to those that would be eligible, offering people and groups the opportunity to register their interest in the voluntary initiative, which would be paid for the full life of the scheme of about 25 years.

Project Manager Helen Wilson said: “LEDS is an exciting new form of community benefit, which seeks to deliver direct and tangible benefits to people living and working closest to our proposed windfarms in the form of a discount to their electricity bills.

“This is being introduced in addition to a Community Benefit Fund for investment in local community projects, bringing the total package of community benefits to in excess of one million pounds over the project’s lifetime.”

Both companies have previously submitted plans for turbines on adjacent sites. BT’s bid was turned down by the county council, while RES withdrew its plans before an inquiry into non-determination of its application.

One of the objections to the bid has come from Netherwitton Parish Council. The authority says: “If this application is approved and built, the cumulative impact of this development in conjunction with the Infinis turbines at Wingates would be huge.

“The two windfarms would, from the majority of viewpoints, merge into one large windfarm.”

“We have significant concerns that the noise of the turbines would be intrusive for the closest properties.

“The separation distances between dwellings and the nearest turbines are too small. Whilst they may meet the 6x blade tip height criteria, it is becoming increasingly clear that 6x blade tip height is not enough to protect residents from the effects of a wind turbine – be it noise, flicker or visual impact.”