Duddo Stones - still a mystery

Frank and Clare Dakin at the Duddo Stone Circle

Frank and Clare Dakin at the Duddo Stone Circle

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Plans to put a wind turbine close to the ancient Duddo Stones have been given the green light by a Government inspector.

An appeal had been lodged by William and Christine Jackson of Shoreswood Farm after the application was rejected by Northumberland County Council in 2012.

Inspector Philip Major ruled that the 74-metre tall turbine would not cause ‘substantial harm’ to the setting of the 4,000-year-old Duddo Stones, dubbed Northumberland’s equivalent of Stonehenge.

He said: “The drama of the approach to the scheduled ancient monument from the south would be diluted and the the vista across the northern part of its setting would be harmed by the presence of the development.

“But, in my judgement, it cannot be reasonably concluded that the harm would be substantial.

“Though there would be visual harm to one of the two approaches...a great deal would be unaffected. There would be no impact on the interpretation or understanding of the scheduled ancient monument.

“Therefore the only tenable conclusion is that the harm to the setting would be less than substantial, and the significance of the scheduled ancient monument itself would not be compromised to any great degree.

“I would characterise the severity of harm to the setting as moderate.”

The decision drew an angry 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.

“I am very upset and aggrieved,” she said. “We have put a great deal of personal effort and expense into opening the stones up to the public and making it a place for people to enjoy and appreciate.

“People locally have been outraged by the inspector’s decision. Ninety people objected to this, along with all the local parish councils.

“We really don’t think the inspector, having visited the site on a fairly dull December day, can have fully appreciated the views and the impact this turbine will have on them.

“That turbine will be visible from many miles away and it will change the landscape forever, spoiling what for many people is a spiritual place that has been there for thousands of years.”

The objectors are now considering whether to challenge the decision with a judicial review, despite the high costs this would bring.

“We are currently getting legal advice on whether the reasoning behind the decision was correct,” said Mrs Dakin. “If we are told there is more than half a chance, then we are likely to go ahead.”

The application for the 800kw turbine also received 14 letters of support highlighting the importance of renewable energy and reduced fuel costs for the farm.

Mr and Mrs Jackson said: “This positive decision will allow us to investigate the remaining aspects of the project which, if resolved, will result in the installation and operation of the turbine in due course.

“We are looking forward to investing in a development which will benefit our business and the local economy.”

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