Shockwave over plan for valley wind mast

KItchen unit at Rothbury First School with headteacher Dianne Butler, chairman of governors Robert Famelton and county councillor Steven Bridgett.

KItchen unit at Rothbury First School with headteacher Dianne Butler, chairman of governors Robert Famelton and county councillor Steven Bridgett.

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Plans have been submitted for a meteorological mast in one of Northumberland’s most unspoiled valleys, sparking fears of a wind turbine to follow.

Residents in Sharperton, in Upper Coquetdale, have now been alerted by their county councillor, Steven Bridgett, after an application for the 50-foot pole, which measures wind speed, was filed with the local planning authority last week.

The company behind the development is Empirica Investments, which currently has an application for a 67-metre-high turbine next to the A1 at Old Felton, which was preceded by an identical mast.

Coun Bridgett said: “I have great concerns about this application, as these masts are always a precursor to a windfarm development.

“The siting of even a single turbine in this part of the Coquet Valley would have a significant impact on it being an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“I have written to all residents in the area, as well as the parish councils, as no one had any warning that this application had been made.”

As well as the turbine at Felton, Empirica Investments has submitted an application for an identical structure at East House Farm, near Warkworth, as well as a met mast on land north of Lemmington Hall, near Edlingham.

Earlier this year, villagers at Wingates, two miles south of Rothbury, saw off plans by another developer to add three more turbines to a site where six have already been approved.

Councillors agreed that it would have an impact on the ‘special’ landscape of the Simonside Hills.

Coun Bridgett added: “We seem to be experiencing a rush of applications for single turbines across north Northumberland and I would question what their cumulative impact will be.”

An attempt by the county council’s Conservative Group to impose new restrictions on windfarm development was defeated last month, after councillors were warned that the measures could have led to legal challenges by applicants.