Fury at ‘Victorian Disneyland’ slur

Elsdon Gibbet, Winter's Gibbet.
Elsdon Gibbet, Winter's Gibbet.

PROPOSALS to build a nine-turbine windfarm overlooking Northumberland National Park have angered councillors.

Air Farmers Ltd is looking to develop land next to the A696 at Winter’s Gibbet, near Elsdon and the park boundary.

Parish councillors in Elsdon were told of the plans by planning consultant Bob Morgan on behalf of the developers.

They were told that a scoping report would be submitted, with the development called Middle Hill Renewables Ltd.

However, some councillors felt that the proposals and remarks about the windfarm plans were intimidating and condescending.

Coun Steven Bridgett, who represents Elsdon on Northumberland County Council, said: “I was absolutely flabbergasted at what was said on some occasions, I nearly drew blood from having to bite my tongue at times.

“This gentlemen sat and talked to us like we were nothing more than a bunch of country bumpkins, and I take great exception to that.

“He made it absolutely clear that they wanted this to happen as quickly as possible and even if it ended up at appeal they were ‘prepared to throw £400,000 to £450,000 at taking it to appeal’.

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The proposal is to build these colossal turbines within metres of both the Winter’s Gibbett which is Grade II listed and within metres of the National Park boundary and this gentleman had a complete disregard for both of them

“He referred to Winter’s Gibbett as ‘nothing more than Victorian Disneyland’ and the National Park boundary as just basically lines on a map; ‘If you get someone from London they won’t know where the boundary to the National Park is’ he said.

“From the outset Mr Morgan made his intentions clear stating that what his investors wanted was a ‘pension fund’ and ‘income over the long term’ I felt as if we were being told this is what is going to happen whether the community likes it or not.

“He may feel that the National Park boundary is insignificant, however there is an act of parliament that states otherwise.”

Chairman of the parish council, Keith Maddison, said that the council will be talking to residents to collate opinion on the proposals.

“My personal view is that they (wind turbines) are not the way forward,” he said.

“He was a little bit unfair in the meeting and I didn’t know quite what to make of things.”

The parish council was the first port of call for the developers and Coun Maddison said he wasn’t used to the planning system working in that way.

But he added that the council had not had time to fully discuss the plans as Mr Morgan took up more than an hour of the meeting but it will be on the agenda for next month.

Bob Morgan of Middle Hill Renewables said that the company is planning to hold a public exhibition about their plans next month.

He added: “We wish to work closely with the Parish Council and local community to ensure that any fears or concerns they may have regarding the effects of the wind farm are fully addressed or mitigated. We are committed to ensuring that the local community obtains positive and tangible benefits in the event that the proposed wind farm obtains planning consent. So, we feel that it extremely important that the residents of Elsdon are the first to see the details of our proposals.

We therefore feel that it will be inappropriate to divulge any details of the proposed windfarm at this moment in time.”