FAMILIES in a rural hamlet were celebrating a job well done yesterday after securing an overwhelming victory in their fight against plans to build a wind farm near their homes.
Campaigners in 14-home Fenrother, near Morpeth, Northumberland, said they are relieved and delighted after county councillors unanimously rejected the bid by Energiekontor UK for five turbines – each 126 metres tall – on nearby farmland.
A local action group set up more than a year ago to oppose the scheme submitted a 71,000-word objection document, which was backed by more than 1,600 letters of objection.
Campaigners burst into a round of applause at County Hall in Morpeth after members of the county council’s planning and environment committee agreed to accept a recommendation from officers to refuse planning permission for the scheme.
More than 100 people then gathered in a local pub for celebratory drinks – and they will now wait and see whether Energiekontor decides to challenge the decision on appeal.
Local people reacted with horror when the wind farm scheme was first unveiled in 2011, at a time when countryside around Morpeth was under siege from a number of wind energy developers.
County council planning officers came up with several reasons for the application to be rejected, saying it would have significant and unacceptable impacts on the landscape and local residents.
Almost a dozen statutory consultees also objected, including two local parish councils, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Northumberland National Park, Morpeth Civic Society and the Northumberland Badger Group.
Yesterday, GP Dr James Lunn, who lives in Fenrother with his wife Gemma and young daughter Imogen – and who has led the protest campaign – said the overwhelming feeling was one of relief.
“At the start of all this I thought we were goners and dead and buried, but since then there has been a change in public opinion, and there is a growing tide of people realising that we are not just Nimbies, that reasons for rejecting wind farms are quite extensive and that wind turbines are not efficient, green providers of energy.”
Pat Turnbull, who has lived with her husband Rob in Fenrother since 1985, said: “Our whole group has pulled together, and we believe people in Northumberland are now saying enough is enough on wind turbines.”
Last night, Energiekontor project manager Sam Dewar said: “Obviously we are disappointed. We will now have to examine the exact reasons for refusal, when we get the official decision notice, before we consider what to do next.”