Air Farmers Ltd propose building fourteen 125 metre (410 ft) turbines at Swinhoe Farm.
They have advised that Turbines 1 and 2 will be removed from from their original sixteen turbine proposal. This is standard behaviour for developers who usually pitch for more turbines than they intend applying for before magnanimously reducing numbers and heights ‘in response to public consultation’.
In fact, Air Farmers are persisting with more, and bigger, turbines than most informed people expected.
The site, in a prominent position between Holburn and Belford, covers an area that is over 3 km (2 miles) in length and up to 1.5 km wide.
Air Farmers propose holding an exhibition on their revised proposal before submitting a planning application to Northumberland County Council.
The development would involve thousands of heavy truck movements in building access roads and excavating and constructing turbine foundations, hard standing areas and cable trenching.
Turbine foundations are huge concrete structures: the developers quote a minimum 18m x 18m x 2.5m in size. That is over 800 cubic metres of concrete and steel rebar, weighing in at around 2,000 metric tonnes per turbine. This is all left in place when the turbine tower is eventually removed. This amount of concrete and steel has a very large CO2 burden.
This is a ‘best case’ calculation. The Middleton burn site is complex: wet and/or unstable ground conditions in some site areas might require ‘grouting’ (injecting liquid concrete) or deep-piling to provide secure turbine foundations.
Concrete emits leachates and major groundworks risk contamination of groundwater and pollution of highly protected watercourses.
There would then be over a hundred heavy transporter movements to deliver the huge turbine components to the site. Blades for a 125m turbine are 44 to 45m long, nearly the height of Berwick’s Guild Hall (figures from Vestas, the Danish manufacturer of the 125m V90 3MW turbine which the developers are considering using).
The photograph shows a Vestas V90 3MW turbine being constructed. The men working in the nacelle give some idea of the scale, as do the orange and green fluorescent dots at the base of the turbine – these are workmen holding lines attached to the blade.
The Aikengall turbines are clearly visible on the horizon from areas south of Berwick, over 35 kms from the site.
To appreciate the devastation caused by the construction of a large wind turbine array look at the Cefn Croes picture gallery, a record of what local people describe as the “Rape of an upland plateau“.