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Will vikings bring Whitworth windfarm plans to a halt?

Whitworth’s viking history could hit plans for a 12-turbine windfarm.

Two new planning applications for the proposed development at Crook Hill, 2km east of Whitworth have been approved by Rochdale council.

Planning chiefs on Rossendale council will now have to decide whether to allow an access route to the site through Shawforth.

But Whitworth town councillor David Barnes is opposing the plans, saying it could mean that ancient relics could be lost forever.

He told Rochdale council’s regulatory committee: “There must be a full archaeological ground survey done, not a desktop one, before a 30-metre corridor is driven through this area, otherwise the archaeology will be lost forever. Archaeology for the area dates back to iron, age, bronze age and medieval times.

“The Vikings settled around here, indeed many of the local farms date back to these times and have Scandinavian names.

“Rochdale was a main Viking town being on the trading route between York and Manchester.

In his ‘Introduction to the Archaeology and Early History of Whitworth’ Stuart Mendelsohn wrote: “Few areas in Lancashire offer so much of interest to the archaeologist and medieval historian as Whitworth.

“Bronze Age sites can still be seen in the Whitworth area, though after around 3,000 years we can expect some damage.”

Coun Barnes said he is also concerned about the destruction of peat, and badger sets and wild pony populations, and potential water supply contamination.

He said: “In view of the fact that there are so many unanswered questions, may I respectfully ask that this application be deferred until all relevant surveys have been done and reports received.”

The Shawforth application would create a new access route from the A671 along Landgate, through Middle Hill Quarry and over Rough Hill.

It has received objections from local residents, who fear the large vehicles required would come near to their homes.

The turbines proposed by Coronation Power are 125 metres high. Seven would be sited in Rochdale and the remaining five over the Calderdale border.

Coronation Power say that if they get the go-ahead construction of the windfarm is due to start in early 2012 and be finished later in the year.

Richard Butler, principal planning officer, for Rochdale Borough Council said the archaeological issues were fully assessed as part of an earlier appeal following the original wind farm proposals at Crook Hill in January 2009.

He said: “In allowing the appeals, the Inspector imposed a planning condition on each decision to deal with archaeological matters arising from the development.

“When the two current revised applications for the 12 turbine wind farm were assessed by the council, the changes were not considered to have any materially greater impact on the archaeology of the moor.

“The same archaeological planning conditions were therefore imposed. The Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit were satisfied with that situation.”

A Rossendale Council spokesman said the application was provisionally scheduled for its July 27 development control committee.