Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Villagers Stick to Their Guns over Turbines; Volunteers Turn Down PS2m Stake in Wind Farm

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Villagers Stick to Their Guns over Turbines; Volunteers Turn Down PS2m Stake in Wind Farm

Article excerpt

Byline: Neil McKay ? 0191 201 6007 ? neil.mckay@ncjmedia.co.uk

C OMMUNITY volunteers have rejected the chance of a PS2m cash boost for much-needed village hall repairs because acceptance would have meant publicly approving a controversial wind farm proposal.

Now developer Banks Renewables, from Meadowfield, Durham, has come under fire from campaigners fighting plans for a wind farm consisting of five 115-metre turbines at Windy Bank, near Hamsterley Forest, a popular beauty spot near Bishop Auckland, County Durham.

The board of the Teesdale Village Halls Consortium was asked to get involved in a scheme to set up a joint venture with Banks, the firm behind the PS12.5m wind farm plan which is due to be discussed by county council planners in the new year.

But in return for a stake in the wind farm, the consortium and its members would have been required to publicly state their support for the five 115 metre-high turbines.

At a consortium meeting at Mickleton Village Hall, members unanimously voted against involvement with the joint venture scheme.

The meeting considered a report by Ewan Boyd, of Teesdale Environmental Consulting, who had been commissioned by the Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Service to explore options for community-owned renewable energy projects.

"One such proposal was to approach Banks Renewables and request that part of their Windy Bank wind farm proposal be made available to community investors as part of a joint venture," stated Mr Boyd's report.

"Banks have expressed a strong interest. In discussions to date, Banks Renewables have provisionally confirmed they would be willing to consider offering the community a PS2m stake in the overall development.

"It is currently envisaged this level of investment would be sufficient to generate an annual income of approximately PS200,000."

But the consortium's decision to turn its back on the scheme delighted members of the Hamsterley and Upper Gaunless Action Group, who are campaigning against the Windy Bank wind farm proposal. …

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