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Wind turbines bid near Flodden Field is rejected

A bid to erect two large wind turbines near a historic battlefield has been thrown out amid claims that approving it would risk declaring “open season” on important heritage assets across Northumberland.

The 34-metre high turbines are proposed on a hillside about one kilometre from Flodden Field near Branxton, where King James IV of Scotland was killed during a battle with an English army under the control of the Earl of Surrey in 1513.

The Battle of Flodden’s 500th anniversary will be marked next year and the bid to build the turbines at nearby East Moneylaws Farm generated 60 letters of objection, and claims that it will spoil the setting one of the country’s most important historical sites. Now the application has been unanimously rejected by the county council’s planning and environment committee, despite a recommendation from County Hall officers that it should be given the go-ahead.

Committee members ruled that the two 50kw turbines will cause unacceptable harm to the Flodden Battlefield asset, and have too big an impact on the local landscape.

Objectors included the local charity Remembering Flodden Project, which manages the battlefield trail on the site.

Yesterday chairman, Clive Hallam- Baker, who lives with his wife Angela at Branxton, near Cornhill, said: “We are delighted with the committee’s decision and believe it was the battlefield connection which made them reject the application.

“It is a good result because everyone we spoke to up here was against these turbines.” Mrs Hallam-Baker, who is secretary of the charity, said: “These turbines would be very visible from the Flodden Memorial and just don’t fit in with the local heritage.”

Council planning officers told the committee it had not been an easy application to deal with because of the important heritage asset involved.

However, historic buildings and archaeology experts had concluded the turbines will not cause significant harm to the battlefield site.

Coun Ian Swithenbank said Flodden was a sensitive and historic site, and there was a question over where the council would drawn the line on wind turbines if it approved them in such a location.

“I feel that if we allow this application it almost becomes open season on any historic sites we have,” he added. And Coun John Taylor said: “There is a saying that a country that doesn’t look after its history loses its soul.

“And I would hate to think that in Northumberland we would lose our soul.”

Yesterday Berwick-based renewable energy expert Simon Maden, who is the agent for the application, said he would be advising East Moneylaws farmer Robin Lathangie to challenge the committee’s decision, adding: “I have no hesitation about appealing because of the work we have put into this application.”

A report to the committee said the impacts on Flodden Field are “not considered to be substantial” and are outweighed by the wider benefit of producing renewable energy.