‘There’s a long way to go but we will not waver’

MBAG chairman Chris Craddock with the protesters in Belford.

MBAG chairman Chris Craddock with the protesters in Belford.

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The Middleton Burn Action Group has pledged to “fight the good fight” against wind farm development in Belford throughout 2014.

Speaking to members at the action group’s AGM last week, chairman Chris Croddock said: “I’m afraid that we may find ourselves here again next year with the struggle not yet over. However, we will not waver. We will continue to fight the good fight and oppose with vigour the despoiling of our village and it surrounds.”

The Middleton Burn Action Group (MBAG), which opposes the construction of any wind turbine in the Belford area, now has over 500 members.

Originally set up in response to proposals by Dutch firm Air Farmers Ltd to site 16 turbines on land north west of Belford, MBAG is now also fighting separate plans for a nine-turbine development at Belford Burn.

Developers Energiekontor submitted a planning application for the latter to Northumberland County Council last year. And while MBAG suffered one disappointment in the last 12 months - when a decision to refuse permission for EnergieKontor to erect a measuring mast at Belford Burn was overturned - Mr Craddock said there had been a number of “real successes” to set against that.

He cited increasing membership of the group, 450+ letters of objection submitted against Belford Burn, and exit polls from exhibitions held in the village by both Energiekontor and Air Farmers showing 99% opposition to the schemes.

The group held its first public demonstration in August. “We had hoped for around 40 or 50 people to march from Cragmill Lane down North Bank and along West Street to the Community Club, simulating a turbine blade delivery vehicle,” Mr Craddock said.

“Over 250 people joined that protest and many more supported from the pavements and the Market Place as the march passed. This was, in my view, a very clear demonstration of public opposition to the scheme.”

He added: “It is clear that the developers recognise that we represent effective opposition to their plans, since neither appeared to want us at their public exhibitions. I believe that Northumberland County Council clearly take us seriously and so do others in the county who, like us,oppose wind turbines.”

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