The Guardians was formed to help protect the Duddo Stones and their landscape setting from harmful industrial development.
It was supported by the owners of the land on which the Stones are sited and by most farmers, tourist businesses, local councillors and residents in the area.
With the dismissal of the Shoreswood wind turbine appeal the group will adopt a watching brief, ready to campaign against any further industrial developments which threaten the setting of the Stones.
74m Enercon E48 turbine
(Folly Farm/Steps of Grace, Berwick)
The Berwick turbine was consented as an 800kW turbine and the applicants made much of the power it would produce and the CO2 it would save.
It was 'de-rated' to 500kW post consent without any application to vary the terms of the original consent.
By reducing output to qualify for the 100-500kW Feed-in Tariff band it receives nearly twice the rate paid for an 800kW machine, while producing 37.5% less at maximum output.
The setting of Duddo Five Stones has been threatened for several years by a proposal to build a 74m commercial wind turbine at Shoreswood Farm.
The proposed turbine was exactly the same as the Enercon E48 turbine at Folly Farm, close to the Ramparts Industrial Estate in Berwick.
The Shoreswood scheme was unanimously refused by Northumberland County Council in October 2012, following the advice of officers and heritage experts.
To everybody's surprise, the decIsion was appealed and a planning inspector overturned the local refusal.
With the support of people across Northumberland and the Borders, a legal claim was then made to the High Court, seeking to quash the Inspector’s decision.
The case was due to be heard at the High Court in June 2014. But, before the case came to court, it was conceded that the Inspector had failed to give “great weight” to the conservation of designated heritage assets and to the fact that any harm to such assets “should require clear and convincing justification”.
The appeal approval was quashed, and costs were awarded to the claimants.
The appeal was returned to the Planning Inspectorate for redetermination, before the decision was 'recovered' to the former Planning Minister.
A decision was supposed to be announced by 25 March, 2015, but this was then postponed until after the May General Election and consultation on new ministerial guidance.
The Minister has finally (30 September, 2015) agreed with the findings of the Planning Inspector and decisively rejected the appeal.
Appeal Ref. APP/P2935/A/13/2195630.
The landowner at Felkington Farm (the site of the 'Moorsyde' turbine scheme which was refused at appeal in 2010) encouraged Fine Energy Ltd to apply for two 34.5m turbines on his land. These turbines would not have supplied the farm, exporting directly to the grid.
The farm already has a 20m wind turbine even closer to the Duddo Stones. Local people did not object to this turbine which is close to, and in scale with, the farm buildings.
NCC unanimously refused the application on 4 March, following the case officer's recommendation.
Duddo Parish Council objected to the proposal on the grounds of its adverse cumulative impact on the local landscape, the amenity of local residents and on the setting of Duddo Stones.
Fine Energy Ltd appealed against the refusal on 27 March, 2014.
The appeal was dismissed on 8 December, 2014.
NCC Application Ref. 13/02691/RENE.
Appeal Ref. APP/P2935/A/14/2215293.
(By kind permission of Windbyte)
KEY: Yellow - Pre-application; Red - Planning Application; Green - Consented/Under construction; Blue - Operating; White - refused/withdrawn/abandoned/derelict. Large markers with a black spot represent ‘Section 36’ applications (over 50MW nominal capacity).
Dots represent smaller, so-called ‘farm-scale’ turbines (often as big as commercial turbines).
Turbines smaller than 30m (100 ft) are not recorded. Dozens of 15-30m turbines have been built or consented in Northumberland.