Ancient and modern can co-exist comfortably side-by-side, an independent historic and cultural expert has told the Middlemoor wind farm inquiry.
Speaking on the fourth day of the hearing, Dr Jonathan Edis described how monuments both near and far would be largely unharmed by the appearance of 18 turbines near South Charlton.
And he attempted to demolish claims to the contrary made by objectors, saying their conclusions were “emotional” and lacked rigorous methodology.
Dr Edis said: “After undertaking a site visit I confirmed to npower that I was satisfied that the proposed wind farm would not harm the historic environment.
“The Environmental Statement indicated that the general area of the proposal site has been occupied since the Mesolithic period, and identified sites and stray finds of Bronze Age, Iron Age and Medieval date.
“The main focus of interest is on Camp Hill and North Charlton Moor, but as a general observation much of the recorded archaeological activity lies outside the study area.
“In broad terms, I interpret the majority of the proposal site, and much of the surrounding land within the Study Area, as falling within the broad type of Enclosed Land – specifically enclosed in the late 18th and 19th centuries.
“There are ‘special’ features such as North Charlton Medieval Village and Camp Plantation, but the areas in between are heavily influenced by modern land use.”
He added: “There will clearly be an effect on the character of the historic landscape arising from the proposal, but in my view no harm will arise from this change.”
In his own study, Dr Edis highlighted what he called “key monuments”, which included the likes of Heiferlaw Tower, to the north of Alnwick, the grade-two-star listed Charlton Hall, the Camp Hill prehistoric earthwork, North Charlton Medieval Village and Field System, Eglingham Conservation Area and the Ros Castle Iron Age hillfort on high ground to the west of Middlemoor.
In all cases, he said his studies indicated no harm would be caused by the wind farm.
And turning his attention to Alnwick Castle and Hulne Park, he said: “It would be difficult to make a case for any visually meaningful historic connection with land to the north of the B6346, and in terms of setting the influence dies away long before one reaches the proposal site.”
In closing his summary, Dr Edis said: “The Environmental Statement identified no material harm to the historic environment, and having undertaken an independent review of the document I find no reason to depart from its conclusions.
“In my opinion there are no materially harmful impacts on the setting of any listed or scheduled building or monument, or any other significant historic asset.
“Nor will there be any harm to the character of the historic landscape.
“Where there would be views of wind turbines in association with historic assets, the effects are slight, or distant, or both.
“There are some exceptionally important assets such as Alnwick Castle Gardens, which are noted in the Environmental Statement, but they are so distant that there can be no question of an adverse effect on their setting.”
16 November 2007
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