Wind farm developers are investigating a site less than a mile from a historic battlefield with a view to building seven huge turbines.
Renewable Energy Systems Ltd (RES) are carrying out a scoping exercise for the wind farm just north of Halidon Hill, site of the famous 1333 battle where the Scots were routed by the English.
The proposed turbines are 120 metres (394 feet) high and would be sited on Freeman land 1.5km north of Halidon Hill, 1km north-east of West Edge Farm and 1km west of the A1 – just a few hundred metres from the border.
Bernard Shaw, chairman of Berwick History Society, said: “I understand the environmental issue but I personally have strong reservations about any development which would have such an impact on our historic heritage.”
Coun Michael Cook, deputy leader of Scottish Borders Council and a resident at nearby Lamberton, said the scenic landscape and historical resonance of the area should be taken into account.
“Apart from the battle of Halidon Hill which was a Scottish calamity there is also the ruin of Lamberton Kirk where James IV and Margaret Tudor met in 1503 to agree marriage terms,” he said.
John Williams, chairman of Foulden, Mordington and Lamberton Community Council, confirmed that the council had taken a decision to oppose all plans for wind farms visible from their community.
“This one would be extremely visible,” he said. “In any case the whole issue of windpower is highly debatable.”
Mordington resident Gregory Lauder Frost, who lives near the proposed site, was horrified to learn of the proposal.
“It would be a desecration of a very historic area,” said Mr Lauder Frost. “Nobody would think of putting a wind farm beside Flodden but Halidon Hill is equally important.”
RES have already developed or are constructing two wind farms in the Scottish Borders – including 22 turbines at Black Hill, near Duns.
The company is also investigating a site at Murton, just to the south of Berwick, where it is looking to build ten 120 metre turbines.
The information has been with Berwick Borough Council’s planning department since August last year but has only recently been made public in a list released by Northumberland County Council.
Shona Alexander, the borough’s director of regeneration and development, said: “We have been contacted by developers who wanted to carry out a scoping exercise for a wind farm at Murton High Crags and a site north of Berwick. At this point there is not a planning application for either site.
“The council deals with all prospective and submitted planning applications using the due processes, and every application is considered on its own merits. This includes any wind farm applications. We have also commissioned a number of studies, including one which looks at cumulative impact of wind farms to assist in the decision making process.”
After the withdrawal of a scheme for six turbines at West Moneylaws, near Mindrum, there are now plans for at least 53 turbines in the borough.
Planning applications are in for ten turbines at Moorsyde (near Allerdean), another nine at Barmoor (near Lowick), seven at Toft Hill (near Grindon) and ten at Wandylaw. Another site, on Bewick Moor, near Chillingham, is being investigated by the Spanish company, EHN.
Council officers have now informed Moorsyde Action Group that they intend to decide the ‘Moorsyde’ and Barmoor applications together on May 29 and that they may also decide the Wandylaw application at the same meeting.
This will be the first scheduled meeting for the new planning committee after the local elections and will take place shortly after the committee’s first training session.
“It beggars belief that the council are proposing to hear two, possibly three, hugely complex and controversial planning applications at an ordinary planning meeting, with a new committee,” said MAG’s spokesman.
“It is also entirely illogical to consider Barmoor, Moorsyde and Wandylaw together but not Toft Hill, a proposal immediately next door to Moorsyde which is also in the planning system.”
“The council tell us that they are trying to rush these decisions through together because the planning department is failing to meet government targets for the determination of planning applications.
By Ian Smith
18 April 2007
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