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Northumberland wind farm scheme sparks protest from local church
Published 11/06/05
A proposed wind farm scheme close to Barrasford and
has provoked a frosty response from the church.

Up to fourteen 50 metre high wind turbines could be located in a beautiful corner of the Northumberland countryside near to the historic church of St Aidan at Thockrington in Northumberland

The letter below has been submitted to the Hexham Courant newspaper by vicar John Wylam to alert local residents as to the draw backs associated with the wind farm scheme.

If you have a view on the controversial proposals for the possible wind farm in Northumberland please contact us.

The letter reads as follows:

NE46 4TF
Tel 01434 681721

The Editor, The Hexham Courant, Beaumont Street, Hexham 4 June 2005

Dear Sir,

The impression has been given that there is little opposition to the siting of a 50m wind monitoring mast and a subsequent wind turbine development south of the grade 2 star listed Church of St. Aidan, Thockrington. However, Thockrington Parochial Church Council, responsible for an ancient public building that will be most directly affected by the development, is not surprisingly totally opposed to the siting of the 50m monitoring mast, which is to be the fore-runner of a high profile development of 14 wind turbines. Furthermore, as if to add insult to injury, these views can only now be expressed because in addition to the incredulous prospect of such insensitive development, the PCC was not even consulted until, having indirectly found out about the application, it made known the implications of the church's protected status and significance to the community.

The church features in authoritative guides to Northumberland, an icon standing sentinel for 900 years on the exposed ridge of the Whin Sill through the turmoil of border fortunes and weather. Little did anyone conceive the risk would finally come from 'sustainable' development (sic). The wind turbines will be 100 metres in height at the zenith of their blade - three times the height of the Angel of the North. Their scale and impact will completely dominate the landscape, destroy the beautiful views from the church to the plain below, and from the A68, and inevitably blight the life of the church - both the regular worshipping community, and passing visitors attracted by its solitude.

Thockrington Church is a "working church"; it is used for worship, for baptisms, weddings and burials. The churchyard is cut regularly, and graves are tended: those who have loved ones buried there have voiced their unhappiness and opposition to the proposed scheme. There is a steady stream of visitors, it is on a marked cycle route, and it is on the proposed itinerary of a long distance walk for pilgrims and others to be known as King Oswald's Way. Two footpaths go near to the site of the wind mast, and through the area proposed for the wind turbines.

Spirituality today is very much about stillness and silence. The movement of the blades and the destruction of the vista will be a distraction to those who seek peace and quiet. Thockrington Church is for many a special place.

The Northumberland Joint Structure Plan adopted 2005 is quite clear that not every location is suitable for renewable energy projects: the visual amenity, the character of the landscape, and the impact on the archaeological and built heritage must be taken into account. The Tynedale Local District Plan also lays out a number of conditions that have to be met. Quite clearly Thockrington is not a suitable place for a wind farm because of its effect on the landscape, the setting of a historic building, the immense upheaval to the land caused by construction work, and the threat to birds who fly to and from Hallington and Colt Crag reservoirs.

It is entirely right and proper to be good stewards of the created world, and concerned about the emission of green-house gases with the resultant effect of global warming, hence the need for the generation of electricity from renewable sources. This letter is a protest about an insensitive and inappropriate application for a 50m wind monitoring mast and the proposal to site 14 wind turbines in an area to the south of Thockrington Church.

Yours sincerely,

John Wylam

(Vicar of Thockrington, and Chairman of the PCC)

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