Anger as Duddo stone circle wind turbine plan gets the green light

Plans to put a wind turbine close to Northumberland’s answer to Stonehenge have been given the green light

Frank and Clare Dakin, of Duddo Farm, at the 4,000-year-old stone circle
Frank and Clare Dakin, of Duddo Farm, at the 4,000-year-old stone circle

Plans to put a wind turbine close to Northumberland’s answer to Stonehenge have been given the green light, provoking an angry response from the site’s guardian.

A Government planning inspector has given the go-ahead to a bid to erect a 74-metre turbine less than two miles from the 4,000-year-old Duddo stone circle, a scheduled ancient monument near Berwick in Northumberland.

The development had been rejected by county council planners after 90 residents, three parish councils and the authority’s archaeologist objected, the latter claiming the engine would cause substantial harm to the setting and significance of the stones.

Last night, the decision sparked a furious response from Clare Dakin, on whose land the stones sit, who said it undermined the work her family had done to open up the site to visitors.

Scottish company 3R Energy Solutions initially applied to Northumberland County Council for planning permission for an 800 kilowatt machine at Shoreswood Farm, Ancroft – south of Berwick, and home of William Jackson.

Its bid attracted 14 letters of support. Yet the proposal faced the objections, amid fears over the proximity to the stones.

The monument, also known as The Women or the Singing Stones, sits next to the hamlet of Duddo. It is made up of five large blocks of stone, created in the Neolithic period. The reasons for its creation are shrouded in mystery.

Members of the planning and environment committee were advised to refuse the application by officers and unanimously did so in October 2012.

The company said afterwards it would be contesting the decision.

The appeal was conducted by an inspector who conducted a December site visit. He has now decided to allow the appeal, meaning the turbine can be erected.

In his findings, the inspector concludes that the turbines would “cause some harm to the setting” of the stones but that it would be “less than substantial harm.”

Last night, Mrs Dakin, who allows the public to visit the stones on her land, spoke of her anger at the decision.

She said: “I am absolutely furious and devastated. The amount of effort we have put in, not only to open the stones up to the public, we have gone to great effort to make it a place for people to enjoy and appreciate. What is the point in working hard to keep the place special?”

Mrs Dakin was part of an action group which succeeded in fighting off plans for seven turbines at nearby Toft Hill, amid fears over the impact of the stones. She had similarly sought to block the Shoreswood turbine.

She said: “We have put our hearts and souls into this and I just feel absolutely devastated.”

The stones, she said, are visited by 6,000-9,000 people each year from all over Britain and overseas.

Mrs Dakin added: “That turbine will be visible. It is on a high bit of ground. When you drive from Berwick to Cornhill, it will be like the Angel of the North from Cornhill to the River Till almost, you will see this thing as a feature in the landscape.

“There will be this much bigger structure which will be moving and very, very prominent and very, very visible.

“It will completely interfere with the thoughts of those who have a sensitivity about that sort of site, people for whom it means something special. The fact it is a spiritual place. The fact it has been there thousands of years.

“They will come and see that turbine and wonder who could put that so close to that wonderful ancient monument.”

Mrs Dakin has also been involved in an ongoing fight against plans for two 34.5m turbines on land North of Felkington, just over a mile from the stones, which she fears will also be approved creating, with Shoreswood, a cumulative impact on the stones.

3R Energy Solutions declined to comment.


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