Last summer I encountered several visitors to this rare and dazzling corner of England who remarked on the vandalism caused to this landscape by the Middlemoor and Wandylaw wind farms.
The general sentiment was that it was not so much the sight of the turbines they encountered as they were travelling along the A1 but the shock of the industrial change they imposed on what had been the rare and pristine open landscape views of our area asexperienced from the coastal area, particularly such as when on a trip to the Farne Islands.
On Monday - ironically for me renowned as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year - I received news that a planning application for the construction of a 74-metre high wind turbine, which I and others have fought hard to prevent, had been allowed on appeal.
The location is on high ground, perhaps 30 metres or more above the level of the main road from Berwick to Cornhill. It will be experienced by travellers as a structure over 320 feet high. It will stand as a beacon to “progress” for those travelling from Longridge to Tillmouth, an “Angel of Shoreswood”.
The structure itself is about four times the size of the Angel of the North. It is indeed a godsend for the applicant and he will be able to generate huge income from the machine in feed-in tariffs.
But those of us who have worked hard to nurture the beauty and special character of this area are weeping tears of anger and frustration. We are devastated by this outcome.
We know that this machine, on those clear and beautiful Northumbrian days of early summer, will stand as an insult in the landscape. It will distract the thoughts and contemplation of the many visitors to the Duddo Stone Circle who travel from far and wide to see this amazingly intact relic of bronze age life which has stood in a unique landscape setting for over 4,200 years.
As visitors to the Stone Circle make their pilgrimage on foot from the road to the circle sitting on its knoll they will see the fluted shapes of the stones on the horizon. Just to the right of that focus they will see a much more prominent turning machine.
“How could they allow that?” people will say. “The council should be ashamed,” is what we hear from visitors remarking on the other schemes.
Well, people of England and Northumberland, know this: it is not the council’s fault.
This development is happening because a planning appeal inspector (who happens to live in unspoilt North Yorkshire) say they think it is OK. Why, you might ask, is the inspector able to make this decision affecting our beautiful landscape? Well, search me.
I thought we lived in a democracy which was listening to publicconcern about the alleged but questionable environmental benefits of onshore wind turbines that cause the desecration of cherished landscapes.
Indeed I was thoroughly encouraged by the Planning Guidance for Renewable and Low Carbon Energy issued in July 2013 which is to be read by those administering Planning Legislation alongside other planning practice guidance and the National Planning Policy Framework.
It seems that the inspector did not read this, he does not refer to it in his decision which appears to fly in the face of that guidance. If he did read it then I consider his judgement to be deeply flawed and I do not think he is fit to make a decision of such hurtful significance to this or any other locality.
He acknowledges that the case is very finely balanced. Well, if it is so finely balanced, leave the status quo and don’t offend the many local people and visitors who are appalled by this outcome.