A long-running saga over a bid for a wind turbine near an ancient monument in north Northumberland may finally be over after the Secretary of State agreed the appeal should be refused.
This decision, on the proposed 74-metre turbine at Shoreswood Farm, near Ancroft, which sparked objections from many wishing to protect the 4,000-year-old Duddo stone circle, was the second time the Government had intervened on this application.
In December 2014, the Planning Inspectorate notified interested parties that the Secretary of State had recovered the Shoreswood appeal decision and would have the final say, taking into consideration the recommendation of the Planning Inspector, Richard McCoy, as it ‘involved a renewable energy development’.
The letter on behalf of the Secretary of State agrees with Mr McCoy’s recommendation, concluding ‘that the factors which weigh in favour of the proposed development do not outweigh its shortcomings’.
In September last year, the Advertiser reported that a community group – The Guardians of the Stones – had issued a call to arms in the latest battle to protect the ancient stones, situated about 2.4km from the site, after the original appeal approval was quashed by the then Minister for Communities and Local Government, Kris Hopkins.
The original scheme was unanimously refused by Northumberland County Council’s planning committee in October 2012.
The applicants appealed and a planning inspector subsequently overturned the decision, before a legal claim was made to the High Court, seeking to quash this decision.
But before the case came to court, the appeal approval was quashed and a different planning inspector – Mr McCoy – was appointed to decide the case.
One of the key issues in Mr McCoy’s report detailing his reasons for refusing the appeal was the impact on the stone circle, which is a Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM).
He wrote: ‘There are extensive views from the stone circle in most directions and I consider that the setting incorporates all of the visible landscape since these are the surroundings in which the stone circle is experienced. The proposal would fall within the setting of the SAM.
‘Those visiting the stones and contemplating their significance would be distracted by seeing the turbine, in particular its rotating blades, and this would not be mitigated by the intervening distance or presence of features such as buildings, trees and the line of wooden poles’.
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