Was founded in November 2004 to oppose the so-called ‘Moorsyde’ proposal for, initially, fourteen 110m turbines on a site at Felkington, 6 miles south of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland.
The group was wound up in May 2010 after a successful campaign which finally saw Your Energy’s appeal against the refusal of their planning application (against the LPA’s recommendation) rejected by the Secretary of State, following the Planning Inspector’s recommendation to refuse.
The MAG campaign website was then absorbed into the Windbyte website, which had previously been largely devoted to mapping wind proposals.
The SoS and the Inspector accepted the arguments that MAG put forward at the public inquiry in June 2009 and recognised that:
noise limits would be exceeded;
there would be “major” effects on the landscape in general;
there would be “material harm” to visual amenity;
there would be unacceptable impacts on key views to the Cheviots;
the proposal would contravene local and national planning guidance.
The decision letter and the Inspector’s Report are available for download here:
Decision Letter (16 pages, small PDF file).
Inspector’s Report (101 pages, large PDF file).
Northumberland County Council, now the local planning authority, have published a statement: ‘Planning decisions on windfarms’, 25 January 2010.
Berwick Advertiser, ‘Government dismisses two out of three wind farm proposals’, 21 January, 2010.
‘Moorsyde plan “seriously harmful to Cheviot views”’, 27 January, 2010.
‘“Serene and remarkable” Duddo Stones saved from turbines’, 27 January, 2010.
‘Hills and woodland would “contain” Barmoor scheme’, 27 January, 2010.
The Journal, ‘Two Northumberland wind farms rejected but third allowed’, 21 January, 2010.
The ‘Moorsyde’ name, dreamt up by developers, was intended to suggest moorland. The site is actually 300 acres of arable farmland on a low-lying plateau some six miles to the south west of Berwick-upon-Tweed.
This small, lowland, low-wind plateau of settled farmland is less than 8 miles wide from east to west and barely 5 miles deep from north to south.
As can be seen from the map, four proposals were planned within a 10 km. grid square and another is still being scoped. The question MAG repeatedly asked the developers, the planners and everybody else was - how, in this small area, could large arrays of massive turbines be accommodated without severely impacting on communities and on tourist businesses which underpin the local economy.
The answer was delivered at the Berwick Public Inquiry in 2009 and and, eventually (after 5.5 years of blight which cost local people and the local economy dearly), informed the Secretary of State’s decision that this area cannot support large-scale arrays of industrial turbines without severe damage to landscape quality and residential amenity, and is contrary to local, regional and national planning guidance.
2002-2004. Canadian power company ATCO scope a proposal on the so-called ‘Moorsyde’ site at Felkington, near Berwick-upon-Tweed and commission consultants Jacobs Babtie to undertake the environmental impact assessment (EIA).
July 2004. ATCO abandon the proposal with the EIA is nearly completed. The scheme is hawked around the wind industry before being bought at a knock-down price by Your Energy Ltd. [YEL].
YEL was formed in 2001 by former members of TXU Europe’s renewable energy team (ironically, TXU Europe was wound up after defaulting on its Renewables Obligation!). YEL was then a small, struggling, speculative development company with only 1 scheme for 4 turbines on Orkney consented in 3 years of activity (and immediately sold on).
According to the company’s Annual Report of 31 December 2002: “The Directors regard Mistral Invest Limited, a company incorporated in the Bahamas, as the immediate parent company by virtue of its 51% voting rights in the company.
The company’s [i.e Your Energy’s] ultimate controlling party is CNC Investments Corporation, a company incorporated in the Bahamas, by virtue of its majority shareholding in Mistral Invest Limited.
[...] The ultimate beneficial owner of CNC Investments Corporation, is Consolidated Navigation Corporation, a company incorporated in the Marshall Islands.”
18 October 2004. A few people in the parishes of Ancroft, Duddo and Shoreswood, some 6 miles to the south of Berwick-upon-Tweed, receive a letter from YEL announcing the ‘Moorsyde’ proposal. Dated 15 October, this letter informs the few who receive it (nobody in Shoresdean receive it) that the company intend holding an exhibition on 21 October, regarding plans for the construction of fourteen 110 metre (360 ft) turbines on a 300 acres of arable farmland surrounded by the communities of Shoresdean, Shoreswood, Ancroft, Duddo and Felkington, Grindon and Grievestead. This, prior to “sharing our plans to engage the local interested parties, before submitting a planning application to Burton-Upon-Tweed Borough Council” [sic].
21 October, 2004. ‘Moorsyde’ exhibition. On the day of the exhibition, a solitary, small advertisement appears on an inside page of the Berwick Advertiser advertising the event. This is the first that most local people have heard of the exhibition, the scheme or, indeed, of ‘Moorsyde’ or Your Energy. Happily, two of the few people who receive the letter use their three days notice to investigate some of the highly questionable statements contained in the company’s brochure and attend the exhibition to represent the “local interested parties” that Your Energy subsequently do their best to sideline.
10 November 2004. MAG formed. Well over 100 local people attend a public meeting at Shoresdean Village Hall to discuss the ‘Moorsyde’ proposal. Moorsyde Action Group formed to represent local communities. Steering Committee of 10 local people formally elected.
October-December 2004. Your Energy appears to be in financial trouble; nearly all its directors resign.
December 2004. Your Energy Ltd. announces a restructuring. It is taken over by Mistral Invest, its major financial stakeholder.
January 2005. Your Energy Ltd. submit a planning application to Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council for fourteen 110m turbines, anemometry mast, substation and infrastructure.
March 2005. MAG submits a detailed response to Your Energy’s planning application.
Spring 2005. Berwick Borough Council commission environmental consultants Ironside Farrar to undertake an independant audit of the ‘Moorsyde’ Environmental Statement and other documents relating to the application.
16 June 2005. MAG presents a petition objecting to ‘Moorsyde’ to the Borough Development Services. Analysis shows that 81.2% of households within 2.5km of the site object.
Summer 2005. NPower Renewables announce a proposal for an array of twelve 125 metre (410 ft.) turbines on the Toft Hill site, within 3 km (2 miles) of ‘Moorsyde’.
October, 2005. Catamount Energy/Force 9 Energy announced a proposal for ten 110.5 metre (362 ft.) turbines on the Barmoor site, within 4 km (2.5 miles) of ‘Moorsyde’.
November 2005. Ironside Farrar produce their independent Audit Report on the ‘Moorsyde’ Environmental Statement. This report picks up on nearly all the criticisms levelled at the ES by MAG.
March 2006. Your Energy Ltd submit an ‘Addendum Report’, responding to some of the many criticisms of the ‘Moorsyde’ Environmental Statement in the Ironside Farrar Audit Report. It offers some additional suvey work on Bats and Newts that had been recommended by the County Ecologist in the original scoping documents. It also provides a few additional photomontages, though still avoids providing any that show key views to the Cheviots or from the settlements to the north of the site.
March 2006. Catamount/Force 9 Energy submits a planning application for the Barmoor proposal.
May 2006. MAG submits a detailed response to Your Energy’s Addendum Report.
Summer 2006. Berwick Borough Council commissions consultants Ferguson McIlveen to undertake an independent visual impact appraisal of the ‘Moorsyde’ proposal (the applicant’s Addendum Report had failed to address questions on visual impacts raised in the Ironside Farrar Audit report).
July 2006. Your Energy undertake a Borough-wide mailshot (8,300 leaflets) with a ‘Community Update’ newsletter and freepost card with a 3-step questionnaire designed to elicit overwhelming support from the ‘silent majority’ for their scheme (they do the same for their scheme on the Isle of Wight).
This misfires badly when they are discovered by MAG to have simultaneously prepared a revision of the proposal that is not mentioned in the flier. Mysteriously, there is no press announcement regarding ‘overwhelming support’ (as on the Isle of Wight).
31 July 2006. Your Energy announce that they are cutting 4 turbines from the proposal and relocating another. This is in response to criticism from the County Archeologist regarding the impact of the scheme on Duddo Five Stones, a Scheduled Ancient Monument. YEL continue to ignore the impacts of their scheme on Duddo Tower, another SAM.
October, 2006. The North East Assembly report that Berwick Borough Council have signed up to the wind capacity study by Ove Arup in the Alnwick and Berwick ‘ W’ ‘areas of least constraint’ identified in the Regional Spatial Strategy. This study was originally commissioned by the NEA to refine issues of carrying capacity and cumulation by intensive GIS and landscape assessment techniques.
This study is expected to report in February 2006 and is expected to become a major element in informing decisions on wind proposals.
November 2006. NPower submit a planning application for seven 112 metre turbines on the Toft Hill site.
November 2006. After examining public responses on the planning file, YEL hire a Greenpeace activist to try and produce some evidence of public support for their scheme. He ‘assists’ in the formation of a small, secretive support group of “about 8 members”.
December 2006. Berwick Borough announces that the ‘Moorsyde’ application will be determined on 12 December 2006. The Darlington consultant who authors the outsourced Officer’s Report, an error-strewn, and grossly misleading document, recommends approval. Most people who are familiar with the application are hugely surprised at this recommendation, especially in the light of the many and serious criticisms of the Environmental Statement made by independent auditors, Ironside Farrar, and the failure of the applicants to address these issues in their Addendum. There is also a justified concern that the scheme would be decided without the benefit of the Arup Report and without adequate information on visual impacts, capacity and cumulation. This is subsequently shown to be the case, as the applicants are forced to further reduce their scheme (see September 13 2007) post Arup.
There is considerable suspicion that this recommendation is not unconnected with the Borough's financial problems, its failure to meet planning targets and the knowledge that the developer could take the application to appeal for non determination and seek costs.
12 December 2006. Announcement at the planning meeting that the Borough will defer a decision on the Moorsyde application for one month. This, in response to representations made by MAG’s solicitors regarding the adequacy of the information provided to councillors and the correctness of the procedure being followed.
21 December 2006. Your Energy announce a consultation on ‘supplementary information’ provided in connection with a revision of the application in July 2006. Contrary to assertions by YEL, most of this information has not been made available to statutory consultees or the public until this time.
16 January 2007. On legal advice, Berwick Borough's Planning Committee decide not to discuss a Councillor’s motion to postpone all decisions on wind farm planning applications until the local stage of the award winning ‘Arup Wind Farm Development Study’ reports in February.
17 January 2007. Borough announce that ‘Moorsyde’ determination will go ahead at a special planning meeting on 6 February 2007. This, without benefit of the local Arup study which is due to report at the end of February 2007.
26 January 2007. After further legal representations by MAG’s solicitors, Berwick Borough announce that they have taken Counsel’s advice and that the ‘Moorsyde’ determination will be deferred again for an unspecified period. They state that they will commission work on cumulation, even though Arup are understood to be covering this subject and have offered to extend their work to deal more extensively with this issue.
20 June 2007. Ove Arup and Partners Ltd. ‘Wind Farm Development and Landscape Capacity Studies: South and West Berwick upon Tweed (May 2007)’. Published by the North East Assembly (now superceded by the Association of North East councils [ANEC]) (download link).
August 2007. MAG submits a response to the Berwick Arup Report.
September 2007. EON UK submit a scoping application to the Borough for ten 125m (410 ft) turbines on a site at Ancroft North Moor, directly adjacent to the ‘ Moorsyde’ site.
3 September 2007. Scott Wilson, ‘Moorsyde Wind Farm - Addendum: Issue Report. (August 2007)’ published by Berwick Borough Council. Scott Wilson also publish reports on Barmoor and Toft Hill. These latter reports are more coherent and of better quality than the 'Moorsyde' version.
The ‘Moorsyde’ report is a discursive review of Arup and other work; not a cumulative impact assessment in any known sense of the term, though that is what the Borough stated that Scott Wilson were going to produce after consulting Counsel in January 2007.
13 September 2007. Your Energy advertise a further reduction in the size of the scheme, to 7 turbines, though this is still at variance with Arup’s findings and does not include a redesign of the turbine layout.
10 October 2007. MAG submits an objection to Your Energy’s 13 September 2007 amendment to the 'Moorsyde' proposal.
21 November 2007. YEL submit some supplementary information on noise, power output and potential savings in climate change gases relating to the revision of the ‘Moorsyde’ application of 13 September 2007.
7 December 2007. MAG submits ‘Observations on the Ferguson McIlveen’s ‘Moorsyde wind farm planning and visual impact appraisal; March 2007’ and Scott Wilson’s ‘Moorsyde wind farm addendum; August 2007.’.
21 December 2007. MAG submits a response to the supplementary information from Your Energy Ltd.
13 January, 2008. An expert assessment of the ‘Moorsyde’ noise modelling and associated noise information by consultant Dick Bowdler of New Acoustics Ltd. submitted to the Borough. Commissioned by Ms T Faiers and Mr R Watson of Ancroft Southmoor Farm, this report was subsequently ignored by the Moorsyde Officer’s Report for the March planning meeting.
27 March, 2008. ‘Moorsyde’, Barmoor and Toft Hill applications refused by Berwick Borough Planning Committee. ‘Moorsyde’ and Barmoor were refused against the Officer’s recommendation with only the Chairman, following normal procedure, voting with the Officer’s recommendation. The Toft Hill application was refused in line with the Officer’s recommendation; the Chairman abstained.
26 June 2008. Catamount Energy lodge an appeal against the refusal of the Barmoor application.
8 July 2008. Your Energy lodge an appeal against the refusal of the ‘Moorsyde’ application.
23 July 2008. NPower lodge an appeal against the refusal of the Toft Hill application.
26 August 2008. Planning Inspectorate notify Berwick BC that as decisions on ‘Moorsyde’, Barmoor and Toft Hill are “of major significance for the delivery of the Government’s climate change programme and energy policies”, the Minister will ‘recover’ the decisions to himself rather than allowing the Planning Inspector to decide.
19/20 November 2008. E.ON UK hold an exhibition on a scheme for eight 125m turbines at ‘West Ancroft’ (Ancroft Northmoor), a site contiguous with ‘Moorsyde’. (See ‘West Ancroft’ page.)
March 2009. One week before the demise of Berwick Borough Council and the formation of a unitary authority, E.ON UK submit an application for eight 115m turbines at ‘West Ancroft’ (Ancroft Northmoor). This is subsequently withdrawn for amendment.
9 April 2009. E.ON UK re-submit an application for eight 115m turbines at ‘West Ancroft’ (Ancroft Northmoor).
April 2009. YEL finally admit to major errors in their photomontages and produce a ‘Consolidated Package’ of revised photomontages and wirelines just prior to the Public Inquiry.
6 May 2009. Joint Public Inquiry into the ‘Moorsyde’, Barmoor and Toft Hill turbine arrays begins.
22 May 2009. Joint Public Inquiry into the ‘Moorsyde’, Barmoor and Toft Hill turbine arrays ends.
20 January 2010. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government announces that the Moorsyde and Toft Hill appeals have been rejected, and that of Barmoor has been accepted.
2 March 2010. Your Energy Ltd admit defeat and acknowledge that there are no grounds for Judicial Review.
8 April 2010. It is announced that AES Wind Generation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the American AES Corporation has acquired Your Energy Ltd.
12 May 2010. Moorsyde Action Group (MAG) is dissolved.
Members of the MAG steering committee presented a petition objecting to the ‘Moorsyde’ wind turbine array to the local planning authority in 2005.
Of a total of 756 signatures opposing the proposal, 264 were from people living within 2.5 km of the site. An analysis of the petition results showed that 81.2% of households within this distance of the proposed development of fourteen 360 ft. turbines had registered their opposition to Your Energy's plans.1
MAG’s petition is, unsurprisingly, entirely consistent with the findings of Duddo Parsh Council’s confidential survey, where every household in the Parish was visited with the Environmental Statement and people were asked to register their views on the proposed development.
It also echoes the exit poll carried out at E.ON’s exhibition for the West Ancroft proposal: 78.5% of people who had seen E.ON’s PR exercise voiced their opposition (see the West Ancroft page).
1 Total excludes empty properties and holiday rentals.
2 Your Energy have asserted that, "There are probably no more than 50 houses in close proximity that would be effected [sic] ..." (Berwick Advertiser, 2 June 2005).
Your Energy's own Environmental Statement, which accompanies the planning application, states that within 3 km the turbine array will be visually "dominant" and will have a "major" impact on households.
3 A number of these were tenants or employees of landowners involved in the 'Moorsyde' proposal, or had a financial or professional interest.
ELECTRICITY GENERATIONBalancing Mechanism Reporting System (BMRS).