VILLAGERS have stepped up their protest over proposals to build an 80-metre-high wind turbine at the centre of their South Lakel-and community.

Residents of New Hutton filled the village hall for a parish meeting, where a secret ballot revealed 96 per cent opposition to the plans of farmer Peter Ellis.

But anger at the potential Hawkrigg Hill development did not stop there.

Richard Sharp explained: “The meeting made it apparent that objection in the community was almost universal, and provoked us to think that we should do more to get our opinions across.”

There are worries about the visual impact of the structure, and the possible noise effects.

Owner of The Ashes caravan park, Alison Mason, said: “I have spoken to some guests and 100 per cent of them said the turbine would be detrimental to the park.

“People come here for the scenery and the peace and quiet. With a big turbine just over the hill, all this would be taken away.”

As a result, more than a dozen villagers came together to set up an Action Group to co-ordinate the continued dispute.

Posters, placards, and signs have been put up around the village, in cars, houses, and fields. People are also being encouraged to lodge letters of complaints with the district council, and more than one hundred have already done so.

Action group member Jackie Ashcroft, who would be able to see the turbine from her front door, said they wanted to make their feelings visible and set a precedent. “We want to bring attention to others because we know it’s not just us facing this problem.

“We are trying to raise awareness that we are not against wind energy as a whole, but think it needs to be done in the right place. That is not here.”

Mr Ellis was unavailable for comment.

MP Tim Farron said he would support the concerned.

“I will be writing a letter to the planning committee on behalf of residents because it is my job to make sure those concerned are heard.

“I am in favour of wind energy, but I think its place is offshore, where there is more reliable wind, and where there is room for farms of turbines, rather than just one. I will be making this point to the Energy Secretary.”