County’s windfarms debated in the Lords

Middlemoor wind farm, just north of Alnwick.
Middlemoor wind farm, just north of Alnwick.
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A cross-party group of peers has said that Northumberland is bearing too big a burden for the country’s energy needs as an unfair target for windfarms.

During a debate in the House of Lords last week, North East Labour peer Baroness Quin, who now lives in Warkworth, said the county had nearly twice as many onshore windfarms as the seven home counties combined.

She explained that she was speaking on behalf of an informal group, which includes Lord Walton of Detchant, Viscount Ridley, the Bishop of Newcastle and Lord Wrigglesworth, who ‘have all been part of a combined effort to express concern about some of the negative effects the proliferation of wind turbines in Northumberland, and the number of applications for further schemes which are in the pipeline, have caused’.

Baroness Quin also referenced the Gazette, for ‘supporting many local communities in their efforts to get a fair hearing for their views’.

She went on to say that the issue was not energy policy or the role that renewables can play, but ‘onshore wind farms which are in the wrong places and which we feel should not have been given planning permission’.

“It is also about expressing concern over the disproportionate amount of onshore wind in Northumberland and the fears of many of us that more and more developments are going ahead, despite the near unanimous objections to them from the county council and from local communities,” she added.

Viscount Ridley said: “The battles of Otterburn and Flodden, which are redolent of our history, have now been joined by less bloody but still very contentious battles, such as Fenrother, Wandylaw and Middlemoor.

“Yet Northumberland is, on the whole, bearing this pain on behalf of others, because there is no great net benefit to the county itself.”

Lord Walton of Detchant described the turbines at Wandylaw and Middlemoor as ‘amounting to arrant environmental vandalism’, adding ‘they have destroyed the views of some of the loveliest countryside in Britain’.

The Government’s Energy and Climate Change spokeswoman, Baroness Verma, confirmed she would take the points raised back to her department, but said: “Onshore wind plays a vital role in its contribution to the balanced energy mix that we need.”

She added: “Of course, wherever turbines are going to be located, the communities concerned must have a greater say on whether they want them there.

“We must be clear that it has been this Government which has taken those concerns very seriously, listened hard to what communities have said and taken action to respond to those communities, given that a lot of the planning for those turbines was already in the system when we came into Government.”