I HAVE read with some amazement in the last two weeks the letters from members of the Wrangham family seeking to reply to criticisms of the intention of the Harehope Estate to erect a wind turbine at New Bewick.
They have concentrated on quoting existing examples of eyesores in our landscape and on the role played by the farming community in acting as custodians of our land and landscapes.
Many people would not argue against the truth in both those lines of thought, but I fail to see what relevance either argument has on the entitlement of the Estate to put up a turbine which will be nearly four times the height of the Angel of the North.
What stands out is that in neither letter has any attempt been made to justify the size and commercial scale of the planned structure – presumably because there can be no justification in this beautiful area for creating something which will potentially blight us for generations to come.
The moving blades of this turbine would be visible from a large distance from the Till and Breamish valleys and the Cheviots to the west and the sandstone ridge of the Bewick Moors to the east.
The impact would be made worse by New Bewick being situated in a natural bowl, surrounded by high ground to the east, south and west, which would magnify the visual impact. The proposed structure would be particularly visible from a number of roads used both by local people and visitors, especially the A697, the B6346 Chatton to Eglingham road, the Hepburn road past Ros Castle and the road between Eglingham, Beanley and Powburn. The views from all these roads are universally enjoyed.
A turbine of a size which would generate sufficient power to satisfy the energy needs of the Estate itself, perhaps with some small excess in particularly windy times which could be fed back into the National Grid, would still raise objections from some people.
They would argue, in my view correctly, that this amount of energy could be produced more efficiently by photovoltaic cells which would have little or no detrimental visual effect on the landscape. However, what is actually proposed is an industrial-sized structure designed as a major money-making venture by the Estate. The effects on the rest of the local residents and the thousands of tourists who visit every year seem to be totally ignored in the interests of profit.
It seems likely that this turbine would earn its owners 19.7p per kWh generated, with an additional 3p for all units that are exported to the Grid. So by my own calculations, at 22.7p, and with a potential capacity to produce 1,633,000kWh per year, this would mean about £370,000 of annual income for the Estate.
Once the installation costs were paid off this would, of course, be pure tax-free profit and, make no mistake, the only people who could possibly be paying this profit would be all of us, the taxpayers.
Personally, I’d far rather know that I was buying electricity produced at rate of only 5p per kWh which is the approximate cost of electricity generation by the major industry producers.
I strongly believe that the planning application for this turbine should be the subject of major objections from all those who would be affected, whether local residents or people who enjoy visiting the area.
I would urge everyone who cares about our landscape to write to Northumberland County Council planners to voice their objections. Send your letters to: Andrew Simm, NCC Planning Department, County Hall, Morpeth, NE61 2EF and use the reference: Planning Application No: 11/01132/RENE – Singlewood Wind Turbine of 50m to hub and 77.9m to tip and associated infrastructure at New Bewick.
Titlington Mount, Powburn, Alnwick