Turbine is risk to business says worried cottage owner

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A holiday-cottage owner fears his business will be in jeopardy if a wind turbine – nearly four times the height of the Angel of the North – is given the go-ahead on appeal.

In August, Northumberland County Council refused an application to erect a single, 78-metre-to-blade-tip windmill on land at Follions Farm, at Weststeads, near Thropton – to the delight of objectors.

But developer Ogden Renewable Energy has appealed and the Planning Inspectorate will hold an inquiry to come to a decision on the plans.

And Tim Stienlet, owner of Burnfoot Holiday Cottages, at Netherton, is concerned that approval would impact his business, the surrounding area and tourism in general.

He said: “This enormous wind turbine is opposed by our whole community, all four parish councils, the Northumberland National Park, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and was refused by the county council. But it has gone to appeal and we all need help.”

Tim and his brother Peter have invested more than £4million in the north Northumberland economy since they began converting a redundant farm into the holiday cottages eight years ago and every penny for buying, restoring and furnishing the barns has been borrowed from a bank.

Returning customers are the mainstay of the business and are drawn by the ‘unique tranquillity and wide, open vistas of our landscape’.

He fears this is at risk, saying: “We have asked our guests if they will return if this turbine is constructed and almost half have said they will not. They will find a new destination.

“We employ an expanding team of local staff and from next year, according to the council’s own tourism statistics, we expect our guests to spend more than £1million annually in local shops, restaurants and tourist attractions.”

The Stop Follions Action Group is urging objectors to register their concerns before the October 23 deadline.

Tim said: “We need to protect this rare landscape. If you love Northumberland, or if you rely on tourist income, object.”

For details, visit www.fight follionswindfarm.co.uk

Those behind the bid say the turbine would allow the adjacent farm business to diversify and operate in a more environmentally and financially sustainable way.