A green energy company has offered residents close to its proposed turbine site in Northumberland money off their bills.
Developer RES is offering people living near its Rayburn scheme £165 off their electricity bills each year, under a new initiative.
However, the gesture was last night likened to a bribe by one resident opposed to the project, who said she would be ignoring it. The company is proposing to site five turbines at the site between Wingates and Netherwitton.
It has written to around 180 residential, commercial and community properties on mains electricity within four kilometres of the site, offering them the chance to take part in the Local Electricity Discount Scheme (LEDS).
Participants would get the money off their bills once the wind farm is operational, throughout its approximate 25 year lifepsan.
Helen Wilson, RES’ project manager, said: “LEDS is an exciting new form of community benefit which seeks to deliver direct and tangible benefits to people living and working closest to our proposed wind farms in the form of a discount to their electricity bills. LEDS is being introduced in addition to a community benefit fund for investment in local community projects, bringing the total package of community benefits at Rayburn Wind Farm to in excess of £1m over the project’s lifetime.”
She added of the scheme, which is index linked: “If someone moves out of an eligible property during that time, then the annual discount will become available to the new electricity bill payer for the property.”
Last night, Jane Cotton, owner of a bed and breakfast at Wingates, said: “It does feel like a bribe.
“Another neighbour has told me she has torn her letter up.
“I have put mine to one side but I do not intend to respond, they are not offering us enough money to make it worth having more turbines.
“They need to offer us free electricity if they want us to suffer more wind turbines, which would be a help.
“It would influence some people.
“We will wait and see if they get permission first, which hopefully they will not.”
Northumberland County Council is currently holding consulting on the planning application, submitted in partnership with BT.
RES is hoping for a decision in Spring next year and says it could take two to four years for the scheme to become operational, if permission is granted.
The company says the turbines could generate sufficient renewable electricity to meet the average annual needs of around 6,500 homes.