A CONSERVATIVE politician in Northumberland has been accused of hypocrisy after campaigning against wind turbines despite one being in place on her farm.
Margaret Murray, a parish councillor in the Berwick area, has come under fire after opposing wind farms in a newsletter, even though an engine has already been erected on her farm.
The news comes after the party’s leader in Northumberland was criticised for denying involvement in plans for a turbine on his land only to then admit he had led an earlier wind bid on his property.
And a Tory landowner in the county allowed a turbine to be built on his property while campaigning against wind farms when he ran for Parliament in Gloucestershire.
Wind power has become a hot issue in Northumberland, particularly with county council elections next year, in which all three main political parties have hopes of taking the council.
No party has overall control of the council, with the Lib Dems running a minority administration
Liberal Democrats in the county last night said people would be questioning whether they could trust the Tories and that they deserved an explanation.
But last night Mrs Murray insisted the turbines she had been campaigning against were large-scale industrial engines and that the one on her farm is a smaller domestic model.
She is a parish councillor at Kyloe and is the Tories’ candidate for the Norham and Islandshire ward on Northumberland County Council, ahead of the elections next year. Mrs Murray is also the chairman of the Tories’ Norham and Islandshire branch.
In a recent newsletter published under her name, there is an article entitled “Conservatives would halt march of the turbines.”
It states: “The county council must get a grip on the spread of wind turbines in Northumberland. Our county already has enough turbines built, or approved, to meet renewable energy obligations.
“So now we urgently need to make it much harder to build wind turbines in Northumberland.
“A Conservative-run council would pass measures to dramatically reduce the number of applications for turbines.”
But a single 18-metre, 11kw wind turbine has already been erected on land west of Kentstone Farm, at Beal, where Mrs Murray lives.
Last year her party’s leader in Northumberland Peter Jackson caused controversy when he denied being involved in plans for a turbine on his land. Coun Jackson later admitted he had been applicant for an earlier wind scheme on his property.
Former Northumberland county councillor Neil Carmichael, now the Conservative MP for Stroud, Gloucestershire, drew accusations of hypocrisy for encouraging wind farm development in Northumberland while opposing similar applications in his constituency when running his election campaign.
Last night, Lib Dem county councillor for Norham and Islandshire Dougie Watkin said: “People in Northumberland are rightly questioning whether they can trust the Conservatives when they say they are against wind farms, to win votes, then go and get wind turbines built on their own land.
“The Conservatives are saying one thing in their leaflets then doing the opposite, and local people deserve an explanation.
“I think it is just important that the Tories speak with one voice.”
Mrs Murray last night insisted she did not own the land on which the turbine is sited, and that it belongs to her husband’s family’s farming business. It is that company – which she claimed not to be an employee of – that has erected the turbine. She said the engine had been put up before she had been chosen to run for the county council.
Mrs Murray added: “What the Conservatives are against is the large-scale wind farms rather than individual turbines. Ours is just a small domestic turbine. It is only 10kw.
“We want to stop the halt of the large wind farms but we are quite happy with small domestic farm turbines.”