Campaigner William Cash has been fighting plans to build two huge wind turbines in the Shropshire countryside for more than two years.
But now the son of MP Bill Cash, and chairman of the Stop Bridgnorth Windfarm Action Group, is hoping his fight might be over after his manor house at nearby Upton Cressett Hall was granted Grade I protection status by English Heritage.
Mr Cash had the property re-evaluated as part of his campaign against the turbines. The manor now boasts three Grade I listed buildings, making it one of the most protected sites in Shropshire.
Mr Cash now hopes the new grading of the hall, gatehouse and adjacent Norman church will stop the turbines being built.
He said: “The English Heritage upgrade of Upton Cressett Hall, the gatehouse and the Norman church to Grade I national heritage list status has increased statutory protection against inappropriate planning development.
“Added protection has been given with the extra addition of three Scheduled Ancient Monument awards.
“These new awards by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport make Upton Cressett one of the most heavily protected heritage sites in Shropshire.”
English Heritage said Grade I status had been awarded because of the rarity and architectural and historical interest of the buildings.
The hall itself was built in the mid 15th century, with extensions and alterations being carried out in 1480, 1580 and the 17th century – and experts say its roof is of particular note.
The gatehouse dates from 1580 to 1600 and is an example of a now-rare building type. It is estimated that no more than 50 remain from the Elizabethan era.
Proposals for two 230ft turbines in Upton Park, in Morville, have seen strong support both for and against the proposals.
Those behind the scheme say the plans could provide electricity for up to 750 homes, saving 1,790 tonnes of CO2 in the process. But Mr Cash and his supporters believe the plans will ruin one of Shropshire’s most unspoilt landscapes.
Sharenergy and Sustainable Bridgnorth, which are behind the consortium, Co-operative Crida Community Wind, hope plans for the wind turbines go ahead.
The co-operative says the site and turbines have been carefully chosen to minimise impact on landscape, wildlife, noise and other concerns.
Shropshire Council’s south planning committee approved the temporary application for a wind monitoring mast in November 2011 and a full application is expected to follow in the near future.
Mr Cash said his campaign had been backed up by more than 300 supporters from the Stop Bridgnorth Wind Farm campaign group and Philip Dunne MP.
He said: “I hope this new heightened heritage protection will be the end of the saga which has bitterly divided the Shropshire Hills community around Morville and Bridgnorth.
“The chosen proposed position of the towering industrial turbines – each much higher than Nelson’s column – was in the middle of the ancient Upton Park deer park within clear view of the first floor and second floor windows of the gatehouse, thereby destroying both the approach and the historic setting of Upton Cressett.”
Mr Cash said under the new National Planning Policy Framework special protection to the historic setting of listed buildings of exceptional merit was included by the Government following lobbying from heritage campaigners.
Upton Cressett Hall was the historic home of the Cressett family for centuries, before Bill Cash, William’s father, and his family began living there in 1970.
Mr Cash said: “The functional, physical and historic relationships between Upton Cressett Hall, its gatehouse and the former church of St Michael mean the house has important group value with these buildings, which contributes to its own significance.”
The hall and gardens have been open to the public and for group visits since the 1970s.
More than 600 visitors came to the opening weekend when the house was reopened to the public in 2011 after two years of restoration work.
Prince Rupert of the Rhine, commander of the royalist troops, also stayed during the Civil War when Sir Francis Cressett was Treasurer to Charles I.
Others who have stayed at Upton Cressett include former PM Margaret Thatcher, who stayed in the gatehouse.
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