Gas pipeline fears over windfarm plan

WINDFARM objectors say public safety could be at risk if a scheme in Fenrother goes ahead due to its proximity to a gas pipeline.

National Grid has lodged a holding objection to the Energiekontor UK application for five turbines in the hamlet near Longhorsley as one of the structures is too close to a high pressure gas pipeline.

The objection states that the scheme does not comply with the safety clearances required.

However, the applicant insists its proposal does meet the necessary criteria and the issue is due to a misunderstanding.

Project Manager Sam Dewar said: “We would re-state what we have put in our planning application and we do comply.

“We were provided with a map of the location of the pipeline and we entered it into our various software. Basically, the turbine is outside of that buffer zone.

“The response that National Grid has put in is a standard holding objection and there was the same response when we put our met mast in.

“National Grid is in receipt of the plan that we have provided, which shows the buffer and the turbine outside that area.

“There is no problem, but on paper I can see how that might be misinterpreted.

“We are still of the opinion that our plan ticks all of the boxes and is a complete scheme. Nothing has come to light that would change our opinion of that.

“We are confident that we will get permission and we will build a windfarm there.”

But members of the Fight Fenrother and Longhorsley Windfarm Group are not convinced.

Chairman Dr James Lunn said: “We have known about this pipeline issue ever since the application started in October 2011 and we highlighted our concerns verbally.

“When the met mast was put up, we raised our concerns again about the National Grid, but it just seemed to fall on deaf ears.

“I’m not a gas safety expert and neither is the windfarm applicant, but the National Grid has said it is unsafe and needs to be looked at.

“I’m not saying it is going to cause a disaster or any problem whatsoever, but it just seems phenomenal that this applicant seems to overrule the pipeline operator.”

He added: “I think this is another nail in the coffin of this application.

“I think this application will go down in history of how not to do things and how not to engage communities.”

The application will be determined by Northumberland County Council in the New Year.