March 14, 2012

Natural Trust fears for heritage sites after landmark wind farm decision

by ClickGreen staff, 14 March 2012

A wind farm appeal decision that gives the green light to the development of four large wind turbines near to the nationally important Lyveden New Bield in Northamptonshire, could have serious implications for the future of heritage sites, according to the National Trust.

Lyveden is one of the National Trust’s most iconic places, described by the Planning Inspector as “probably the finest surviving example of an Elizabethan garden [with a] cultural value of national if not international significance.”

Despite this he concluded that greater importance should be placed on meeting the regional and national targets for renewable energy rather than protecting the setting of such an important place.

Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust, said: “This decision is a landmark case which undermines the protection of our heritage sites. The National Trust sees this development having a substantial impact on the setting of a historic site of the highest designation.

“It provides a clear indication that our cultural heritage is at great risk from inappropriately sited wind turbines and wind farms. If the impacts here are not such to amount to substantial harm on our nation’s heritage it is difficult to conceive where they would be.”

The Planning Inspector agreed that Lyveden New Bield ‘has archaeological, architectural, artistic and historic significance of the highest magnitude’ and that the 125-metre tall turbines would ‘introduce a man-made feature, of significant scale, into the experience of the place’ that would ‘cause harm to the setting’.

Fiona Reynolds continued: “Lyveden New Bield’s unique, unfinished lodge and gardens are both Grade I listed and the site is designated as a scheduled monument. Together the site has the highest heritage designation possible, putting it on a par with places like Hampton Court.

“The Inspector clearly agrees that Lyveden New Bield is a hugely important historical site and that the turbines will have a significant impact on its setting. This decision is not only damaging for Lyveden New Bield, but for the credibility of onshore wind proposals which must be located, designed and on a scale that avoids compromising the special qualities of their locality.”

The National Trust says it strongly believes in the need to increase renewable energy generation, but as a trusted guardian of places of historic interest and natural beauty it has a duty to do all it can to ensure developments are of an appropriate scale and location.

The four 125 metre wind turbines will be just 1km from Lyveden New Bield, and they will be visible from almost every part of the estate.

The National Trust is currently seeking advice on how to proceed.

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