FURIOUS residents are preparing for a windfarm battle, after a map was found revealing a potential plan for nine turbines close to their homes.
The document shows the turbines sited on the outskirts of villages such as Hadston, South Broomhill and Togston, and close to the picturesque Druridge Bay Country Park and beach.
Some of the turbines are positioned less than 500 metres from houses.
Produced by Terence O’Rourke Ltd, on behalf of client/project Hadston Wind Farm Future Electric (Hadston) Ltd, the map, entitled Birds Survey Boundaries, shows an indicative layout of a possible scheme.
It was found by a Hadston resident last week in a subway underneath the A1068 – which would have turbines either side of it, according to the map – and has since sparked mass fears around the area, with villagers said to be ‘devastated’ about the news.
However, those behind the survey have stressed that it was simply a review of a prospective site, at a very early stage and no formal application has been made.
Linda Kull, who lives at The Pines, in Hadston, said: “There are a lot of concerns. The fears are that the turbines are nestled right in the middle of the villages and set within a circle of local villages and farms. It couldn’t be more condensed if it tried. Everybody has their concerns about this and we are going to fight this every step of the way.
“Nobody wants this to happen. Everyone we have spoken to – and we have spoken to a lot of people – is devastated by it.
“We don’t know how tall they will be, but we are imagining the worst.”
Campaigners claim the turbines would have a devastating impact on wildlife – saying that the potential site is in the middle of flight paths for birds and nature reserves are also nearby.
They also say the windfarms would create noise nuisance, lead to the devaluation of their properties and destroy what protesters have described as ‘an outstandingly beautiful area’.
On Monday, residents spoke of their concerns at East Chevington Parish Council and asked members to back them in their fight against any windfarm plans for the area.
Clerk of the council John Douglas said that he was sure the parish council would back residents 100 per cent but said the council couldn’t do a great deal until it received confirmation of the scheme.
County councillor Glen Sanderson, ward member for Chevington with Longhorsley, said: “It is such an early stage and a long way to go before it would come to the application stage.
“I am worried that on the one hand we don’t frighten people but on the other hand we take a very sensible and measured approach and let them know about the strength of feeling.
“Let’s work together on this. It is so important that we do. We have to say from the outset that this area is completely hopeless and totally inappropriate for any kind of development for wind turbines.
“It is very close to residential development and it is very close to the most spectacular part of the coastline that I think we have in Northumberland and anywhere in the country.”
He added: “The fact that it (the map) was found in such a way increases people’s anger.”
An email sent last week from Terence O’Rourke to Linda Kull says that the company is at very preliminary stages of site assessment and some way off either considering a proposed layout or submitting a planning application.
It adds that, should a decision be made to progress the site towards a planning application, there will be several stages of public consultation.
And Mick Davies, managing director of Future Electric Limited, said: “Wind power companies such as Future Electric are continually reviewing prospective sites and the land in question is one such area.
“These reviews can just as easily eliminate a site for possible windfarm development, as recommend it.
“These reviews give us, the market and the Government a better sense of the situation from a national perspective.
“Over the past year, Future Electric has reviewed more than 800 sites and the UK wind industry collectively will have reviewed several thousand sites. This is many more sites than have ever been developed in the UK.
“The map found was, I am told, a map used to determine possible site capacity. It was in the possession of an ecology sub-consultant sent to the site to review and advise on other issues.
“They should, however, have been issued with a map merely showing a land boundary for review. Such more detailed maps can be misconstrued as having some meaning beyond their very limited use – they do not.
Should we take forward any project at Hadston or elsewhere, we do so in accordance with industry best practice and with very full community engagement.”
The land in question is owned by Grainger PLC.
A spokesman for Grainger said: “We have no current plans to develop a windfarm on our site in Hadston. The documents which were found in the local park are part of a strategic review of our sites across the UK, as we are looking to support the drive for increased renewable energy and carbon emissions reduction.
“This specific study was taken some time ago and were being used for a completely separate purpose by a wind energy company, which has reviewed over eight hundred sites over the past year.”