17th Sep 2013
Press Release from Bishop of Newcastle the Right Reverend Martin Wharton of Newcastle
13/02050/RENEIA. Land North Of Belford Burn C39 Hazelrigg To Belford Moor Junction Belford Northumberland.
(This piece will be published in the September edition of the Diocesan newspaper the, Link, which is published 10 times a year with a joint issue for July/August and December/January, and is distributed in the majority of churches across the Diocese of Newcastle)
Over the summer months, I have spent a good deal of time in Northumberland, enjoying major celebrations in Bamburgh and on Holy Island, where a wonderful flower festival was held to mark the (temporary) return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the North East, and where I dedicated a lovely new window in the parish church. In Bamburgh, the Archbishop of York dedicated a stunning new shrine to St Aidan in St Aidan’s Church. Do go and see them.
Driving up and down the county I could not but be aware of the increasing number of wind farms. Their proliferation is dividing opinions very sharply – not only in Northumberland but all across the rural areas of our country. Whilst we all recognise the need for a greater reliance on sources of renewable energy, there are critical questions to be asked not only about the efficiency of wind turbines in general but also about the massive environmental impact that the significant growth and cumulative effect that wind farms are having in Northumberland.
The Northumberland and Newcastle Society has already called for a better balance between the benefits of renewable energy developments here and the harm that is being done to our beautiful landscape on which the health of our rural economy, and especially tourism, depends.
There is no evidence that I have seen that suggests that wind farms will ever provide the reliable, controllable energy that is required by our society, however many there might be. Furthermore some studies have even suggested that far from reducing CO2 emissions, wind farms actually increase them.
It is a basic Christian truth that we all have a duty and a responsibility to care for and exercise wise stewardship over God’s creation, which has been entrusted to us.
Our countryside needs to be protected and preserved for ourselves, for our children and for our grandchildren as a place of refreshment and renewal for the spiritual health and well being of us all.
The danger is that in parts of Northumberland our landscape is becoming marred and disfigured and turned into one industrial site after another.
If all the wind farms in Northumberland which currently have planning permission, are built, the county will already be making a major contribution to our country’s need for renewable energy sources.
In an area with such spectacular views and landscapes, the planning authority needs to take the greatest care over further applications which are now coming forward.
We are blessed to live in an area of outstanding natural beauty. We enjoy a wonderful physical and spiritual heritage in this land of the Northern Saints.
Is now not the time to say “enough” to any further blots on our landscape? Please remember above all that
“The earth is the Lord’s, and all that fills it”. Psalm 24
The Right Reverend Martin Wharton the Bishop of Newcastle