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Duke backs fight to stop wind turbines on aristocrat's land.

Byline: Brian Daniel

THE Duke of Northumberland has backed a fight to stop wind turbines being erected on another aristocrat's land.

The Duke has signed a petition set up by people fighting plans for 48 turbines in the Lammermuir Hills in the Scottish Borders, on land owned by the Duke of Roxburghe.

The wind farm at Fallago Rig has been in the planning process for several years, and is a proposal from North British Wind Power. Two public inquiries have been held and a final decision is imminent.

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The Journal has been told that the Duke of Northumberland is among the objectors to the scheme, living as he does 70% of the year in the Borders while his Alnwick Castle home is open to tourists.

The Duke is said to be concerned that the Lammermuirs already have around 200 turbines and believes a further 48 will cause more damage to the landscape.

He attended one of the public inquiries and has now signed the petition, set up by a member of the Say No to Fallago group.

The petition, in which he signs himself 'Ralph Northumberland' calls on the Scottish parliament to call an inquiry to consider the process for consenting onshore and offshore renewable energy generating stations.

The Duke has been joined by several other members of his Percy family in signing up and is joined on the petition by the Dukes of Norfolk and Westminster. The Duke was away last night but his spokesman told The Journal: "He lives in the Lammermuir Hills for about 70% of the year, that will be why he has signed it. He is one of many local people who have objected to it. There are already a couple of hundred wind turbines in the area.

"They just feel that one (wind farm) more is too much. This one is right in the middle, it is unspoilt.

It is the decimation of the landscape."

The spokesman, however, denied claims that the Duke and his Roxburghe counterpart have fallen out over the issue.

"That is not true. He has told me that they are perfectly amicable.

This is just something they disagree on, it is quite straightforward really."

Mark Rowley, spokesman, for the Say No to Fallago group, said he was delighted to have the Duke's support, alongside that of broadcaster Prof David Bellamy.

"We welcome any kind of support.

It does not matter who it is from, it is a beautiful bit of countryside, we are keen to preserve it."

The Duke wrote to The Journal last year to make clear his views on wind power, having been accused of staying silent over the issue.

He described turbines as "ugly, noisy and completely out of place in our beautiful, historic landscape."

The Duke revealed he had knocked back approaches from developers to build on his land, privately opposed schemes and had written to councillors to make his views known.

BIGGER IS BETTER, SAYS EXPERT MONSTER wind turbines with blade spans that dwarf the London Eye could be the shape of future green power, according to a North East manufacturer.

An offshore turbine more than 500ft tall with a diameter of 475ft is already due to make an appearance in British waters within the next two years.

But the 10 megawatt machine, dubbed Britannia, may only mark the start of a growing trend, according to the project's leader Bill Grainger.

He sees no reason why offshore turbines should not get even larger, since greater size and power make economic sense.

Mr Grainger, who heads the Britannia design team, said: "There isn't a technical issue that screams out size limit. You have to make changes as you get bigger. Blades get floppier, for example, so you have to put more carbon in, but we aren't anywhere near 100% carbon yet."

Mr Grainger is engineering manager at Clipper Windpower Marine, the UK arm of the US company developing the 10 megawatt turbine. The Britannia, being built at Blyth, Northumberland, will have three enormous blades, each weighing more than 30 tonnes.

They will sweep a circle more than 100ft - wider than the 400ft diameter of the London Eye.

Standing on a solid foundation on the sea bed, the wind turbine will rise 574ft above the waves. It is expected to generate enough electricity to power 10,000 homes, and over its lifetime could displace the use of two million barrels of oil.

The most likely location for Britannia is Dogger Bank, off the North East coast. Clipper Windpower Marine is sinking pounds 44m into the turbine's building facilities, including a blade factory in Newcastle. The project is also receiving pounds 5m from the local regional development agency One North East.

Metal fatigue caused by the stress imposed by turning blades is one of the biggest engineering issues to be overcome by the Britannia team.

SPARKING A REVOLUTION MORE electric cars will hit the roads of the North East as a major manufacturer joins the low carbon revolution. Six all-electric Mitsubishi i-MiEVs have arrived in the region to form the next stage of the groundbreaking low carbon vehicle trials.

They will be scattered across the region's councils, with two cars becoming part of the fleet at Gateshead Council, two at Newcastle City Council, one at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and one at Stockton Borough Council.

Robert Evans, chief executive of the low carbon centre of excellence Cenex, said: "The i-MiEV deployed in the Smart Move project will provide valuable learning."

The i-MiEVs arrive in the region following the successful Green Vehicle Congress 2010 event that was held in Gateshead in March. Mitsubishi Motors' managing director Lance Bradley hailed Mitsubishi's commitment to making the UK a leader in EV technology and infrastructure when he said: "With a range of 80 miles, a top speed of 81mph, it will prove that electric vehicles can be utilised without compromise in an organisation's fleet."

The first 40 electric charging points are already installed across the North East by Newcastle Council, and the UK's first solarpowered charging canopy was installed earlier this year at Gateshead Civic Centre's public car park.

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PROTEST The Duke of Northumberland, above. Inset, the Duke of Roxburghe
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 21, 2010
Words:1032
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