Farm scheme for wind turbine ‘poses threat’ to historic sites

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plans to install a wind turbine could potentially disturb “significant archaeological remains” close to a prehistoric burial monument known as the Ring of Stones.

James Clarkson has applied to Calderdale Council for permission to site one Enercon E33 wind turbine on a 50m mast on land south of Gosling Lane, Barkisland, Sowerby Bridge.

More than 30 letters of objection have been received regarding the proposal to construct a 300kw wind turbine as well as 15 letters of support.

Complaints range from concerns about the turbine’s impact on birds using the area to worries about its effect on the countryside with one objector labelling it an “eyesore”.

But supporters say they can see no harm in the plans with one stating: “it can only benefit the land owner and the local power authority.”

A report for members of Calderdale’s planning committee by head of planning Geoff Willerton, says: “A case has been made to demonstrate the need for the development.”

He says energy is used at Hazel Slack Farm 24 hours a day, seven days a week and in addition to the dairy farm the applicants also run an ice cream business creating a combined energy use of 135,000kWh per annum of electricity which is expected to increase as the farm business continues to grow.

Mr Willerton says: “The proposed turbine is expected to generate in the region of 734,440kWh of electricity each year, which is stated to be a saving of approximately 321 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annumn. The farm is seeking to support the green agenda and reduce its carbon footprint.

“The turbine will be a clearly visible structure in the green belt and it will be an intrusive and prominent feature. It is considered that the harm to the openness of the green belt is not outweighed by the benefits of providing renewable energy.”

West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service says: “The proposed site lies in an area of known archaeological significance. One hundred and forty metres west of the proposed turbine site is a bronze age bowl barrow.

“This monument is approximately 28m by 20m in diameter and 1.5m high, however, the monument was destroyed in 1907 during the building of a wall.”

In addition it says that 220m southeast of the proposed site is a further prehistoric burial monument known as the Ring of Stones. This monument was excavated in 1905 and at least five individual cremations, a stone-lined cist and a burial urn were found.

“Since the 1960s this monument has been severely damaged and has now been ploughed completely flat. Despite this, important evidence will still survive as below ground archaeological remains.”

The service concludes that the turbine base should be subject “to an archaeological strip and record, and any further excavation on site should be subject to an archaeological watching brief, and that this should be secured by condition.”

Turning to conservation issues Mr Willerton says Natural England was consulted and it noted that its guidance on wind turbines and bats had been adhered to.

As for Calderdale Bird Conservation Group’s concerns about little ringed plover at Ringstone Edge Reservoir he notes that these birds occur regularly in the UK and are not legally protected, rare or threatened.

He adds: “Although the CBCG may have a desire to see these birds at the reservoir it does not currently constitute their habitat.”

Ward councillor Kay Barret said: “The application is best heard by planning committee as there are pros and cons with the proposed turbine, with the conflict between renewable energy and the adverse effect the turbine will have on the green belt and the surrounding area.”

The committee will debate the application on Tuesday at Halifax town hall.