OBJECTORS to plans for wind farms in south east Northumberland are being urged to stop biting the hand that feeds them for the sake of the county’s economy.
Blyth county councillor Grant Davey has hit out at opponents of wind farms accusing them of risking deterring further investment in towns such as Blyth, currently at the forefront of the renewable energy industry.
He believes that a boom in the green energy industry on the way for south east Northumberland could help fill the gap in the jobs market left by the closure of Lynemouth’s Rio Tinto Alcan plant earlier this year.
Coun Davey, of the Kitty Brewster ward in Blyth, said: “We are extremely concerned that negative talk in this field will be detrimental to the growth of our embryonic wind farm industry.
“We would like to see a more positive atttitude from councillors for onshore and offshore renewables, and we wholeheartedly support the National Renewable Energy Centre (Narec) in Blyth.
“We see one of the largest manufacturing strands for the future of the councils situated north of the Tyne to be in the renewables sector.” South east Northumberland is seen as having significant wind energy resources, making it an attractive location for renewable energy schemes.
“It has already been identified for small to medium-scale wind farm development within a broad area of search of the region and in addition is largely within an identified wind area of search.
Last month, the first of seven new turbines lined up to replace the existing ones in Blyth was put in place on the pier.
The existing turbines will be taken down at the end of this month.
Developers say the new turbines are much more energy efficient and will keep Blyth at the forefront of the renewable energy industry.
“With the loss of both Alcan and Northumbria Foods at Amble, we now need a manufacturing base we can rely on,” added Coun Davey.
“The new growth industry is in the field of renewables, backed up by the use of carbon capture from undersea coal.
“By utilising our assets of a great workforce to build up the renewables industry and the natural resources lying just off our shores, the need to erect and manage the effects of traditional power stations can be diminished for ever.”
Work by Narec on part of a multi-million-pound wind turbine test site began last month off the coast at Blyth as part of a project estimated to be worth in excess of £300m.
The research facility will form part of the 100mw-capacity offshore wind demonstration site proposed for Blyth. It is due to begin measuring wind speeds next month to add to data collected over the last two years.
Coun Davey, also the council’s Labour group leader, added: “Instead of sending out negative messages to say Northumberland doesn’t want to work in this exciting industry, we need to rebrand Northumberland and North Tyneside as the place to manufacture all forms of renewables and become the technological base of this embryonic but steadily growing worldwide industry.
“The opportunity is almost within our grasp. Let’s make sure we don’t allow it to slip away through loose talk.”
n Meeting told more wind farms are on the way – Page 39