VILLAGERS behind a £200m tourism and leisure vision in Northumberland have withdrawn support for a wind farm scheme which is intended to help kick-start their ambitious project.
Peel Energy’s bid for 13 turbines is seen as the first phase of the ambitious Blue Sky Forest project – which aims to create 800 to 1,000 jobs by developing 2,500 acres of land at the restored Stobswood, Maidens Hall and Steadsburn opencast mines, north of Morpeth.
It includes an international-standard golf course and academy, a sports academy, an Olympic-size swimming pool, an artificial ski slope, 300-bed hotel and man-made lake for watersports, together with other facilities.
The project is the brainchild of the local Widdrington Regeneration Partnership (WRP), which has been working with Peel Energy on the wind farm which would provide the first roads and electricity connections for the site.
But a recent decision by Northumberland County Council to approve a scheme by another green energy firm, Infinis, for four massive turbines near Widdrington has led to a change of heart.
The prospect of the four Infinis machines – together with 13 giant turbines now built around the nearby Alcan site at Lynemouth – has led locals to conclude that the area can’t take any more.
The WRP, along with three local parish councils, has now decided to withdraw its support for the Peel Energy application for 13 more turbines, even though it is part of the wider Blue Sky Forest initiative.
Yesterday leading WRP member James Grant said: “We feel the county council should have looked at the bigger picture and determined the Infinis and Peel Energy schemes at the same time, because they realise what Blue Sky Forest could mean for this area.
“However, they refused to do so and we are where we are.”
Widdrington Village parish council chairwoman Val Seddon said: “If the Peel Energy scheme goes ahead our village will basically be ringed by turbines.”
Peel Energy says its wind farm would be the first phase of Blue Sky Forest and will lay the foundations for the rest by installing infrastructure that could be used by other partners.