Action group barred from premises of Belford wind farm public exhibition

An action group has been barred from the premises of a wind farm public exhibition amid claims of intimidation

Chris and Georgina Leyland (centre) from the Middleton Burn Action Group explain about the proposed site to Fiona and Simon GaskinÐColligan in Belford market place
Chris and Georgina Leyland (centre) from the Middleton Burn Action Group explain about the proposed site to Fiona and Simon GaskinÐColligan in Belford market place

A wind farm developer has barred an action group from the premises of a public exhibition, after claiming some of its members have “intimidated” visitors at past events.

Middleton Burn Ltd has taken the step of preventing the Middleton Burn Action Group from being in the building where its exhibition takes place today over the apparent actions of some of its “large” members at two previous displays.

The group has however dismissed the accusation, hit out at the decision to bar it from being on the premises and vowed to be present outside.

Middleton Burn Ltd is proposing to erect fourteen 125m high turbines at the site of its name, at Belford in Northumberland, having originally proposed sixteen.

The company has held two previous public consultation events in the village, in September 2011 and November 2013.

A third exhibition takes place tomorrow, with the firm having hired the Belford Community Club on West Street from 2pm to 8pm.

The action group contacted the developer to request permission to carry out an exit poll on the premises, as it has done at the previous events.

However, the company refused the request, in light of the apparent actions of members at the preceding exhibitions.

Wind farm protesters make there way through Belford
Wind farm protesters make there way through Belford
 

Project manager Bob Morgan said: “They are free to set up outside.

“The last exhibition was people were being asked to sign a petition before they went in. We feel that is not right.

“Last time it was not an exit poll, it was an entry poll.

“Some of them are quite large people.

“A number of them (those attending the exhibition) felt quite intimidated, people were thrusting paper into them saying ‘say no.’ They had not been in yet.

“We have hired the hall and we do not want them inside.”

Mr Craddock responded: “I think that is rather unfair. I am large but I do not think I am intimidating.

“Quite a lot of people would come up to us and say ‘we would like to fill in your opinion poll, we do not want to go in.’

“We said we would like people to go in.

“I do not want to get into a slanging match with him, it really does not take us anywhere.

“He has seen fit to exclude us from the premises. We still intend to take a poll to assess opinion because we believe that people locally are very firmly against the construction of wind turbine generating sites.

“We will not be on the site because we have been asked not to. And we are law abiding people.”

Mr Craddock said “people can draw their own conclusions” as to why the group has been excluded.

He also felt it wrong that the action group - a community organisation - is being excluded from the community hall.

“It is the Belford community club, we think it is rather strange that part of the Belford community is being excluded from it.

“We are a community organisation.”

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