Berwick turbine access route is given the go-ahead

A WIND farm developer which could not get a delivery vehicle to its Northumberland site has been allowed to create a new access route.

A turbine transporter vehicle on a minor road in Northumberland

A WIND farm developer which could not get a delivery vehicle to its Northumberland site has been allowed to create a new access route.

Force 9 Energy attempted to send a long vehicle to its site near Berwick to establish whether it would be possible to get turbine parts there.

The test journey had to be aborted after the vehicle could not negotiate a junction. The developer then sought to be allowed to deliver turbine parts via a different route and to construct a new access road.

At the time, the incident raised doubts about the ability of Northumberland’s minor roads to cope with deliveries of massive turbine parts.

It came to light just after a giant turbine transporter toppled into a roadside ditch on the A696 in the county, causing it to be closed for five days.

Now, Northumberland County Council has given the go-ahead for the construction of the new route.

Force 9 Energy was given planning permission to erect six turbines at Barmoor after the Government overturned Berwick Borough Council’s decision to refuse planning permission in 2010.

The failed test delivery occurred last December. The company then sought to revise its intended route to instead take turbine parts from Berwick via Wooler and Doddington.

It also sought permission for a second access track, at Barmoor Red House Farm. Force 9 was still looking to develop the original access track, to allow the extendable vehicles to leave the site using a shorter route once they have made their delivery and been reduced in size.

At the time, questions were asked over whether the applicant had checked the route before applying for the original planning permission and calls made for the council to carry out a thorough assessment of the suitability of the new route.

The council has now given approval for the new access route.

Last night, Cornhill farmer Andrew Joicey, of the Save our Unspoilt Landscape group which fought the Barmoor scheme, said he did not know whether the developer had carried out a transport survey or test delivery in relation to the new route.

He claimed any work the company had done on the original route had “misjudged it badly”.

Mr Joicey said construction of the new access route would cause disruption.

He said: “It just brings it home the whole saga of how difficult it was to get round the corner of the original route, how unsuitable these sites are for wind development.

“This looks like a rather desperate attempt to make the site viable again.”

However, David Butterworth, managing director of Force 9 Energy, revealed that the new access route had been sought as the company is proposing to use larger turbine blades at the site.

Mr Butterworth claimed tests had been carried out with the original size of blade and that these had been a success.

However, the larger blades could not be brought to the site via the intended route which is why the new one was being pursued.

Mr Butterworth said of the council’s decision: “It is good news and makes sense.”

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