CAMPAIGNERS last night welcomed a firm pledge from their local MP that he is fully behind their battle to block the latest bid for a wind farm in Northumberland.
A week after being challenged by constituents to “put his head above the parapet,” Guy Opperman has made it clear he will oppose the plan to build four massive turbines at Tranwell near Morpeth.
The Hexham Conservative MP says the 126 metre-high machines will have an unacceptable impact on surrounding communities.
His comments were welcomed as “absolutely spot on” by an action group set up to oppose the application from Reading-based renewables company Wind Ventures.
The turbines – the latest in a series of wind farm developments in the countryside around Morpeth – are proposed on the former RAF airfield at Tranwell, close to the secluded and upmarket Tranwell Woods housing estate.
Last week Mr Opperman, a big supporter of renewable energy, said he had reservations about the application but stopped short of coming out in opposition to it.
He was urged by the Tranwell Wind Farm Action Group (TWAG) to put his head above the parapet and fully support its campaign of opposition.
Now Mr Opperman has said: “Having considered the evidence, there is no question in my mind that this wind farm would have a significant and unacceptable cumulative and adverse impact on the communities around it.
“The development would have a significant negative impact on the landscape, local residents and our tourism industry.
“As a big supporter of building new homes on the brown-field former St Mary’s Hospital site (near Tranwell), I’m concerned this could be put at risk if this wind farm went ahead, which would not be in the interests of the county.
“Given this area already makes a huge contribution to our energy needs, through both renewables and opencast mining, I think it is unfair and unreasonable to push another four-126 metre turbines on this community.
“While this is a matter for the county council, and as an MP I have no role in the planning process, I am very clear that I am opposed to this development.”
People in Stannington, Whalton, Mitford and Tranwell set up TWAG to oppose the Wind Ventures application.
Last night Karen Carins, who chairs Stannington parish council and is a leading member of TWAG, said: “What Guy Opperman has now come out with is absolutely spot on. We are delighted that he has mentioned all of the main points that we will be taking forward as formal planning objections.
“He is a supporter of green energy but, like us, he obviously feels this is a development in the wrong location.”
The county council’s planning committee yesterday agreed to hold a site visit and public meeting prior to making any decision.
Wind Ventures says it believes the former wartime airfield offers an excellent opportunity to generate renewable electricity and make an important contribution towards renewable energy targets.