MBAG Update – October 2015

After four years of sustained opposition by MBAG and others to proposals for wind turbine development in the Belford area, we are pleased to report some positive news:

  • Northumberland County Council confirmed the statutory 12 month deadline for submitting a revised proposal for Belford Burn by EnergieKontor passed on 8th October meaning they would now have to start completely from scratch with a totally new planning application;
     
  • Nothing has been heard from Air Farmers since their “final” public exhibition this time last year for the Middleton Burn proposal. Whilst they have regularly said they were about to submit an application, nothing formal has ever actually been submitted to Northumberland County Council apart from their initial scoping report in 2011. They have failed to respond to repeated requests for information on their intentions from both ourselves and the planning department;
     
  • We are glad to hear similar positive news at potential nearby developments. Shoreswood (Duddo Stones) was refused by the Secretary of State following protracted legal wrangles and appeals. Charlton Mires was recently refused by the NCC planning committee. The developers of the proposed Ditchburn 9 turbine windfarm (Eglingham) have announced this week that they will not be submitting an application due to “changes in the market situation in England“!

Clearly, the Government’s changes in June 2015 to the subsidy regime for on-shore wind turbines has dulled developers’ appetite for such investments. It seems the combination of the new commercial reality and effective community opposition really is helping prevent inappropriate development of wind turbines in Northumberland.

The MBAG committee will remain very vigilant as situations can change quickly and sometimes in unexpected ways. The new Northumberland County Plan (core strategy) which is currently out to consultation is very helpful in protecting this part of the county from wind turbine development. If it is adopted in its current form next year, this should provide further statutory protection.

We would like to thank all those who have contributed expertise and resources to MBAG over the last four years. Your committee continues to meet regularly and is very active in monitoring the situation. The next planned public meeting is our AGM in February 2016 when we will again report on progress and future plans.

PNE Ditchburn Public Exhibition Exit Poll Results

PNE Wind held their final public exhibition for their proposed Ditchburn Windfarm on 1st to 3rd June in Eglingham, South Charlton and Rennington, respectively.

The combined exit poll results are as follows:-

FOR 2%
AGAINST 95%
UNDECIDED 3%

That represents an increase of 10% in opposition compared to PNE’s last public exhibition. Once again, local people have clearly demonstrated that they strongly oppose any more wind turbines in the area.

Final PNE Ditchburn Public Exhibitions

DITCHBURN – UPDATE

PNE are progressing their proposal for a 9 turbine wind farm at Ditchburn. Their final proposal is for 9 turbines each 125m/410ft tall each with a span of 90m/295ft. The scheme will be less than a mile from Eglingham conservation village and very close to North and South Charlton.

Key timings indicated by PNE:

Planning Application submitted by July 2015, anticipated planning decision during 2016, construction period 18 months, operational by 2019.

EXHIBITIONS

PNE have announced that the final exhibitions detailing the scheme and confirming the layout will now take place as follows:

Monday 1st June        4pm-7.30pm      Eglingham Village Hall NE66 2TX

Tuesday 2nd June      2pm-7.30pm      South Charlton Village Hall NE66 2JU

Wednesday 3rd June 4pm-7.30pm        Rennington Village Hall NE66 3RR

The previous exhibitions were held at Eglingham and South Charlton, however PNE have added in Rennington this time around. We believe this is a cynical attempt to try to water down the overwhelming local opposition and to try and gain the support of an adjacent parish council that would not be impacted in the same way as Eglingham and South Charlton, but which might benefit from any community fund.

Ditchburn Action Group will be conducting exit surveys at each of the exhibitions to ensure they can send a clear message that local communities overwhelmingly reject this proposal. We need as many people to attend these meetings as possible to register your objections and complete the exit poll. Please get along to one of these exhibitions if you can. This will be the last chance to voice your objections ahead of PNE putting in the formal planning application at the end of this month.

Energiekontor Decide Not To Appeal Belford Burn Planning Refusal

We are extremely pleased to report that Energiekontor UK Ltd have confirmed that they will not appeal the unanimous decision by Northumberland County Council’s Planning and Environment Committee to refuse permission for the proposed Belford Burn windfarm. Michael Briggs, Energiekontor’s project manager said, “I can confirm that we have decided to not appeal this planning refusal within the statutory six month window.”

Energiekontor have a further six month period in which they can submit a revised planning application, so we must not be complacent. However, they have now felt the full force of a locally-led campaign of opposition and, should they submit again, they can be sure that any revised scheme will meet with the same level of opposition and will, almost certainly, result in a further refusal by the planning authority.

MBAG would like to thank all its supporters for their generosity in time and donations, for the letters they wrote, the exhibitions and protest marches they attended, and much more, which has helped bring about this tremendous outcome in saving our beautiful area from further turbine blight.

Third Public Exhibition on Middleton Burn Proposal

Middleton Burn Ltd held a third public exhibition for their proposal, at Belford Community Club on Thursday 30th October.

Following the developer’s refusal to allow us on the premises, we set up our “Gazebo” outside the club and carried out an opinion poll throughout the day. The weather was kind to us and, fortunately, there was NO WIND!!

The turnout was much greater than we (or, we think, Middleton Burn Ltd) expected. The result was as follows:-

FOR 1.4%
AGAINST 98.1%
UNDECIDED 0.5%

That represents an increase of 3.1% in opposition compared to their last public exhibition. We have now covered 6 exhibitions in total for Belford Burn and Middleton Burn proposals, over the last 3 years. In total the average percentage opposed to their plans is 97.5%. If the new planning guidelines on community opinion are followed then this appalling proposal must be refused on the same grounds as Belford Burn.

Belford Burn Wind Farm Refused

BELFORD BURN – UPDATE

We are delighted to tell you that on Tuesday night, 7th October, in County Hall, Morpeth,

BELFORD BURN WIND FARM WAS REFUSED UNANIMOUSLY.

Phil McCarthy made a good presentation and recommended refusal. Our Chairman Chris Craddock, Brenda Stanton, Chair of Belford Parish Council, The National Trust and John Woodman, AONB, all made excellent presentations. We thank them all.

The Councillors refused this application on major issues, and preservation of this special coastline was high on their agenda. Far reaching views from the coast are clearly very important.

The local opposition was praised, and the large attendance at the NCC meeting in Belford last November was very much noted. Thank you all for turning out that night and indeed, for all your objection letters, and the many, many other ways that you have contributed to this proposal being refused.

Air Farmers, the Middleton Burn developers, are still in the side lines. They will be noting this outcome, and we could be facing an application from them… or not!

Thank you ALL for the hundreds of letters, many donations, time spent marching, leafleting, attending meetings, signing exit polls, and the many, many other ways that you have contributed to this proposal being refused.

MBAG Second AGM Held on Friday 21st February 2014

At the AGM, MBAG Chairman Chris Craddock updated those assembled with his annual report and highlighted the following:-

  • Energiekontor applied for planning permission for nine turbines at Belford Burn in June 2013.
  • MBAG subsequently submited a detailed response objecting to the scheme.
  • Energiekontor successfully appealed the decision by Northumberland County Council to refuse planning permission for a meteorogical mast at Belford Burn -the mast has now been erected.
  • August 2013 – a public protest march was held in Belford which attracted over 250 people who opposed the windfarm scheme.
  • November 2013 Northumberland County Council hosted a public meeting at Belford First School about the Energiekontor proposal where the overwhelming majority of those present objected to scheme.
  • Northumberland County Council has requested further information from Energiekontor about the development -until that further information is received it is understood that a decision about the proposal will not be made by the Council.
  • Northumberland County Council will make public the additional information from Energiekontor – members of the public will have three weeks to comment upon this additional information via the County Council’s planning pages (details below).
  • It is anticipated that after the receipt of the additional information from Energiekontor there will be a site visit by members of the Planning Committee who will subsequently decide whether to approve or refuse the application.
  • It is understood that Air Farmers Limited will submit a full planning application in the near future in respect of the development at Middleton Burn. Members of the public should be aware that following this anticipated application they will again have the opportunity to comment upon the proposals via Northumberand County Councils’ Planning webpages.

The Chairman’s Annual Report can be found here: PDF file download.

EK, Belford Burn PUBLIC EXHIBITION May 2013 Bell View, Belford

  URGENT

 

Energiekontor, the Belford Burn wind farm developer are having a PUBLIC EXHIBITON on THURSDAY 9 MAY  5 pm to 8. 30 pm at BELL VIEW.

Bell View is on the south side of West Street , Belford.

                                                                                                 We need as many people as possible to come and express their concerns. We have all seen the turbines being erected a few miles south at Middlemoor and Wandylaw. Energiekontor intend to put up similar but slightly shorter ones on the hills a few hundred metres to the west of Belford. As you can see from our artists impressions they will tower over village and blight the landscape.

The exhibition is something they are expected to do and it demonstrates that they are connecting with us natives. The fact that they totally disregard our opinions is a measure of their arrogance. They have also given little warning of it and very short notice. Perhaps this is a measure of the contempt they have for us!

We will conduct an exit poll to show Northumberland County Council what people really think. This helps them decide which way to vote when the planning application goes in which will probably be soon after the exhibition.

 

At the exhibition it will be your last chance to meet the developers or their stooges and express your opinion. You can quiz them about things such as television reception and broadband reception. The BBC on its website claims 146  houses will be affected, will it be yours?

 ( www.bbc.co.uk/feedback/ ) you may have to hunt about for it and they won’t tell you if your house is one of the affected ones.

 

It is most important that people come and be counted. If you can’t come on Thursday the exhibition will still be there but unattended on Friday 10 May 9 am to 4 pm, Monday 13 May 9am to 5pm, Tuesday 14 May 9 am to 5pm.

 

There has not been much to report about Air Farmers and Middleton Burn wind farm. They might be about to do the same or possibly go straight to planning if so we hope you will be prepared to take up pen and paper and write to the county council to express your opinion. The members of the committee are working hard on your behalf to keep OUR landscape how WE wish it to remain.