The first details have been released about the extent of Bronze Age burial grounds that could be unearthed on land just outside Peterborough that has been earmarked for a controversial renewable energy park.
Early investigations into the historical background of land in the Newborough area has revealed sections of raised ground which could be Bronze Age barrows – a term for burial sites from the ancient era.
There is also evidence of an Iron Age settlement, Roman and mediaeval artefacts as well as pillboxes from the Second World War.
The PT has previously reported how the requirement to hold an archaeological dig may delay Peterborough City Council plans to put up solar panels and wind turbines on farmland in the Newborough area.
Now a just published report compiled by research firm Aecom states that surveys of the land have revealed a number of archaeological anomalies which will now be excavated.
The Aecom report states: “Twenty two sites have been identified within one kilometre of the Newborough Farm site.
“These include scheduled Bronze Age barrows alongside one other non-designated barrow. Other non-designated assets range between the Roman and modern periods and consist of Roman occupation debris, medieval ecclesiastical assets and World War Two Pillar boxes.
“The preliminary geogrpahical survey has identified several archaeological anomalies within the wider area. These include eleven circular features which may indicate a large prehistoric presence.
“Interpretation may suggest an Iron Age settlement, although little Iron Age material has previously been found.
“An alternative interpretation could be a Bronze Age settlement, due to the close proximity to the three Bronze Age barrows.”
Council leader Cllr Marco Cereste said that potential delays had been factored into the proposals and would wait to see what the dig unearths.
“The delay shows our planning department is behaving appropriately to make sure everything is done correctly. I am sure that any archaeological dig will be carried out in a professional manner and I await with interest to see what is discovered.”
Campaigners against the energy park have previously stated that they felt the delay caused by the dig represented a ‘turning point’ in their battle.
Factfile on Energy Park plans:
There has been much debate since Peterborough City Council announced it was planning to build an energy park made up of wind and solar farms on 900 acres of land at Newborough.
Campaigners against the plans have raised a number of concerns and claim there is no guarantee they will be a financial success.
A public consultation is being held over three options for solar and wind farms at Newborough Farm, America Farm and Morris Fen, with potential investments of between £190 million and £450 million needed to get plans off the ground.
The council says the scheme has the potential to generate large sums of money over the next 25 years – which could carry on increasing as electricity prices rise.
The scheme’s detractors say that either option is too expensive and have questioned where funding will come from and how it will be repaid.They also say the potential profits are far from guaranteed.
They are also furious that tenant farmers on the council-owned land will be pushed off and the prime agricultural land – reportedly some of the best in the UK – will be lost.
David Harrington, a councillor for the Newborough ward, said: “I firmly believe this scheme will bankrupt Peterborough.
“We are in an age of austerity and cutbacks and yet a multi-million pound project is on the cards.
“The sums are so vast and are based over a 25-year period – but nobody knows what’s going to happen in the future – it’s a massive gamble.
“I am also concerned that this project seems to be being railroaded through. For a scheme of such a great size, the plans have moved forward very quickly.
“The proposals are almost ready to be put before the planning committee, I feel more time is needed to consider it.”
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