Residents invited to help shape regeneration project

VILLAGERS have been invited to put forward their own ideas for a massive regeneration project.

Developers behind the Blue Sky Forest scheme say no plans are set in stone and there is ample opportunity for locals to help shape them.

One idea put forward at exhibitions last week was to take a rail link into the site, and Peel Energy Communications Officer Alex Doyle said all options can be considered.

“It is at a very early formative stage at the moment and we need feedback from the community to inform the detailed development of the proposals,” he said.

“We are getting all sorts of suggestions. A few people have mentioned that a rail line runs through two areas of the site so if a rail terminal can be incorporated as part of the development then clearly that will help people get to the site and help in terms of traffic on local roads.

“There are some very positive suggestions coming forward and there are a lot of people who want to get involved.”

Mr Doyle said feedback from the exhibitions has been supportive.

“The exhibitions have been very good,” he said.

“So far there have only been four people out of the total who visited who were negative about it.

“Everybody else I have seen has been very enthusiastic about what is being proposed so from our point of view it has gone very well.

“I’m told that there are only 72 residents in Widdrington Village and we had 60 people at the exhibition there so there was a very high turn-out. There is clearly a lot of interest in this.”

Peel is looking to erect up to 15 wind turbines in the area, each 125metres tall to the blade tip, as the first stage of the development, but while there has been local opposition to plans by Novera Energy to erect four turbines, each 126metres tall, at the Sisters site near Widdrington, Peel says there has not been the same response to its proposals.

Development Manager Patrick Keogh said: “Certainly at the exhibitions people have been very positive. There is a real understanding that this project can be delivered.

“People are seeing the wind farm in the context of the whole development and understanding that the wind farm will be developed first to bring in the infrastructure.

“One of the fundamental points is the distance that we are away from any residential centres.

“We are further away than the Novera scheme and people are seeing the wind farm as part of a major leisure re-development, providing infrastructure that helps all the other things to happen. They do see a difference between the two.

“We see the wind farm as the enabler of Blue Sky.”