The second battle of Halidon Hill will be fought with words rather than the swords and arrows of the first.
Yet for the participants, this new struggle is every bit as important to the local area and the kingdom as Edward III’s bid to gain control of Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1333.
The power being fought over today is electricity and at stake is land as a site where wind turbines might be placed.
The passions aroused are mighty, so too are the stakes – global warming has made sure of that – but what’s missing is consensus about what course to take.
Most people hold the Government view, which sees wind farms as the best way currently available to generate electricity without recourse to fossil fuels.
But while everyone accepts they won’t replace conventional power stations, it’s where they should be located that causes division.
And never more so than in the most favoured of locations, the moorland of Northumberland, where landscapes are much loved and held as precious in many minds.
At this point, one might consider the example of North Tyneside Council, which made an agreement about waste disposal in 1996 that has not delivered what it hoped.
When the deal was drawn up, an inquiry reveals, money was put before the environment. Councillors want that situation to be reversed in future.
Commendable as such an attitude is today, 11 years ago it would have been likely to expose councillors to disaster at the polls.
Planners and local authorities today have no more certainty about what the future will bring, of course. Like any of us, they must make informed decisions and hope hindsight does not expose the error of their ways.
One day we will know if wind farms have stood the test of time, but wind we have plenty of and it’s time that is in short supply, and nowhere is an easy answer to be found.
By The Journal
17 April 2007
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