Plans for wind turbine in beauty spot spark concern

Follions Farm, Thropton, turbine pic'looking west towards the National Park
Follions Farm, Thropton, turbine pic'looking west towards the National Park

Battle lines have been drawn to fight plans for a 78-metre-high wind turbine – claimed to be the largest submitted for the Coquet Valley.

The windmill is earmarked for land associated with Follions Farm, north west of Thropton, and the scheme has been lodged with Northumberland County Council.

AAH Planning Consultants, commissioned to prepare the application, say it would allow the adjacent farm business to diversify and operate in a more environmentally and financially sustainable way, with excess electricity being sold back to the National Grid.

The turbine would be sited on the Cheviot Fringe, which constitutes the outlying foothills of the Cheviots, and to the east of the Northumberland National Park.

The design and access statement describes it as being of ‘medium scale’ and says the overall impact on the character of the Upper Coquet area would be ‘slight/moderate adverse’. But it adds that this would not be permanent as the windmill’s life cycle is around 25 years.

There has been no community discussion but the applicant is open to some form of community benefit, possibly upgrading some local footpaths.

However, opposition is already mounting to the project.

Coun Steven Bridgett, ward member for the area, said: “Having read the documents relating to this application and spoken to local residents, I will be objecting. The turbine is on a commercial scale, not just for home-energy consumption, and is the largest to have been proposed for the Coquet Valley.”

His concerns include proximity to Otterburn Training Range, the visual impact and an unsuitable road network for construction traffic.