BARMOOR WIND FARM by dfhercbml

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BARMOOR WIND FARM
PINS Ref: APP/V2913/A/O8/2078347/NWF

LPA Ref: 06/B/0148

Contribution of:
John Ferguson BSc (Hons), ARCST (Hons), DipHE, PhD, C.Eng, MICE, MIHT
(omitting some of Section 1, and Sections 5 & 9 from his presentation to
keep to 22 minutes)

1. Introduction
  1.1. My name is John Ferguson. I am a chartered Engineer.

     [I was the Senior Engineer in charge of the centre set up to determine UK policy in the field of
     computer control of road traffic. I worked as the UK representative with the US Federal Highway
     Administration in Washington DC and California on a joint UK/USA experiment. I was seconded to
     the Transport and Road Research Laboratory (TRRL) to take charge in Glasgow of the continuing
     government research and was the chief TRRL representative on-site running a further comparative
     experiment in Madrid. I was then employed by GEC-Elliot in Germany as the leader of a research
     team investigating various methods of centralised control. Following that I was appointed Deputy
     Director and then Acting Director of a Transport Operations Research and Consultancy Group
     associated with Newcastle University.
     I’ve presented papers at a number of Conferences at home and abroad, have given lectures to UK
     Institutions and a series of lectures at MIT as well as lecturing post graduate students in Engineering
     and under graduate students in Town and Country Planning on Energy and Resources. I’ve been
     Consultant to Plessey Automation, Freeman Fox & Partners, the Jordanian Government and an
     Adviser to the Department of Transport.]




     More recently I‟ve given a number of lectures to History Conferences and
     Antiquarian Societies and contributed articles on historical research to Journals.
     A current project uses original Sitwell family archives, which have been lent by
     the family, to prepare what will be a Four Volume History of the Barmoor estate
     and of its Owners.


  1.2.       My wife and I have lived in Northumberland for 36 years and we‟ve
      owned our present home on the northern limit of Barmoor Ridge for 23 years.
      We bought our home because of its setting in a beautiful & peaceful landscape.
      We look 2 kms. southwards to the proposed Barmoor wind farm and would see
      all six turbines – including some hub visability - and looking northwards 3¼
      kms we would have hub and rotor views of all 15 turbines in the Moorsyde
      windfarm and on the proposed West Ancroft site.
                                                                                           2


  1.3.      I‟d like to give a personal story of our involvement in the saga of the
     Barmoor wind farm proposal over three and a half years.       I‟ll steer clear of a
     technical critique of the Environmental Statement and of its errors and
     omissions as we‟ve already set these out in a number of reports.




2. The Beginning
  2.1.      A few years ago we were told by the neighbouring farmer that he was
     considering having wind turbines installed on his property - which lies to the
     south of us. Initially we weren‟t greatly concerned. Then we saw from our
     cottage a blimp being flown at the site of the proposed Moorsyde wind farm
     which lies to the north of us. We found it difficult to believe that in a landscape
     which has detailed planning guidelines on, for example, the size and siting of
     silos on farms, that such enormous dominating structures could even be
     countenanced in our rural landscape.


  2.2.
        Nationwide: There seemed to be an injustice that land owners could make
         tens of thousands of pounds a year while their neighbours and the
         surrounding community had to put up with the consequences of what those
         land owners wanted to do.
        It seemed wrong that landowners could be party to such proposals when
         they lived 100s of miles away & don‟t have to live with the outcome.
        It seemed wrong that landowners could take an annual turbine income and
         then move elsewhere, leaving those who remain to suffer the consequences.


  2.3.      Thus began our great concern about the proposed wind farms and we
     realised we weren‟t alone when we attended a meeting in one of our village
     halls which was packed to overflowing. The vast majority opposed the Barmoor
     proposal and SOUL was formed to fight it.




3. Planning Committee
  3.1.      Firstly we were faced with all the work needed to prepare a case which
     would be heard by the Planning Committee of the Borough. Members of this
                                                                                              3
         Committee thought long and hard before making their decision about the three
         proposals, yet after the Committee‟s decision to oppose all three Applications
         the Barmoor developer heaped abuse upon our Committee members, I quote:
         “I have never seen such a spineless performance by a group of people who are
         clearly more interested in their own self interest. Obviously we will appeal the
         decision and fully expect to win.”1
         Such an arrogant dismissal of the very notion of democracy at the local level
         disturbed a lot of people and gave us a flavour of what we were up against.


    3.2.         Unfortunately not one of the developers accepted the Borough Council‟s
         decisions and so we find ourselves at this Inquiry.




4. Heritage
       What‟s so special about Barmoor and its surroundings that we‟re prepared to
       devote so much time and effort to opposing the Application? I‟ll start with our
       heritage:-


    4.1.         The Visit Northumberland website2 gives a description of our area,
         including Barmoor:
         “With magnificent views across North Northumberland, this is superb country for
         outdoor enthusiasts. For walkers and cyclists, many footpaths criss-cross the
         estate, and bridleways, tracks and delightfully quiet lanes are all inviting to be
         explored. .. .. .. Numerous outdoor activities also include horse-riding, fishing,
         canoeing and gliding.”


    4.2.         A summary of its archaeological heritage is given by Dr Clive Waddington
         of Archaeological Research Services Ltd. 3:
         “.. .. this landscape contains a wealth of extraordinary archaeological
        remains. This unique story of past settlements has left its imprint on the
        landscape in the form of upstanding monuments, ancient carvings and the
        remains of flint tools and pottery which can still be found in the soil. .. its
        significance (is) comparable to better known remains such as Stonehenge
        and Avebury.”

1
  The Journal, March 28, 2008.
2
  http://www.visitnorthumberland.com/site/highlights/countryside/ford-and-etal
3
  Land of Legend, Clive Waddington, Country Store Publishing, 1999.
                                                                                                             4


    4.3. The Assistant County Archaeologist wrote about the siting of the proposed
         Barmoor turbines in a letter to the Borough Council.4                 It was agreed     5
                                                                                                     that:
         “.. .. this application site lies within an area of high archaeological potential.
         Known archaeological sites and monuments within and adjacent to the
         application area include:
       Evidence of historic mining activity (bell pits, air shafts, surface mining)
       Deserted medieval and post-medieval settlements
       Bronze Age rock shelters
       Prehistoric rock art dating from the Neolithic and Bronze Age
       Prehistoric burial cairns/mounds, burial cists and funerary urns - and
       Prehistoric defended settlements”
       He continued       “.. .. .. Broom Ridge is a prominent landscape feature, as is
        reflected by the concentration of archaeological monuments located along or
        close to the ridge. ..       .. .. I am concerned that the proposed development
        has the potential to significantly and adversely impact the setting of these
        scheduled monuments.”


    4.4.        There are in fact over 60 sites and finds of archaeological and historical
         interest within 3 kms of the turbines proposed for the Barmoor site 6.


    4.5.        In the past, Barmoor lay on the main road leading northwards. It had a
         fortified tower so was used by travellers of importance, including kings7.

    4.6.        The original Barmoor tower/castle was suitable for use as military
         headquarters and the extensive Barmoor Wood gave shelter for forces and fuel
         for fires. The most noted event involving the Barmoor estate was the Battle of
         Flodden in September 1513. The Earl of Surrey, on the eve of the battle
         encamped on the Barmoor estate with his 26,000 men, horses, supplies, tents
         and baggage wagons.8           He probably made the castle his Head-Quarters and
         there made his plans and instructed his commanders. The following day he set



4
  In a letter dated 23 March 2007.
5
   Meeting at County Hall attended by Mr. Nick Best, Assistant County Archaeologist, and Dr. John Ferguson, 8th
February 2008.
6
  Effects on Cultural Heritage, John A. Ferguson, 2008, 10p.
7
  In 1291 Edward I was at Barmoor and in 1319 Edward II stayed over.
8
  The Encampment of the English Army before the Battle of Flodden in 1513 (Its significance for the proposed
  Barmoor Wind Power Station), John & Ann Ferguson, 2006, p6.
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            off on his famous outflanking movement and after the battle returned again to
            Barmoor.

      4.7.           The year 2013 is the 500th anniversary of the battle and because of the
            importance of the Barmoor estate in the lead up to the battle, plans are afoot
            to establish a Flodden tourist trail which would involve Barmoor and increase
            the profile of the events leading up to the Battle of Flodden. A number of 360 ft
            high turning machines would be a discordant intrusion in an appreciation of the
            famous movement of Surrey and his army. As Dr. Barr, who is the expert on
            the Battle of Flodden, has written for SOUL‟s submission: “It becomes much
            more difficult to imagine the decision-making processes of a medieval
            commander when confronted with such a large and jarring symbol of
            modernity .. .. They would fundamentally alter the vision of any visitor to the
            site of the English camp, or anyone undertaking a „ride‟ of the English flank
            march. By adding a new and moving aspect to the horizon, they would distract
            the view of anyone seeking to understand the battle and its campaign even
                                                9
            from the battlefield itself.”




5. [Turbine Noise
    To give some idea of the many problems we’ve encountered in responding to the developer’s
    Environmental Statement and in keeping a track of their subsequent actions, I turn as an example to
    turbine noise.


      5.1. The very first plan for the Barmoor schemes envisaged ten turbines but it was found that the noise
            levels wouldn’t satisfy the national wind farm noise guidelines (ETSU-R-97) so the number of
            turbines was reduced to nine. Because of the predicted noise levels all of the turbines were set to
            run in a low power/noise mode.


      5.2. In addition, because of predicted noise levels at our house and another, one of the turbines had to
            be specially programmed with procedures to keep the noise level within the guideline limits.


      5.3. However, even then the permissable noise levels were predicted to exceed the limits at a number of
            other properties. On a number of occasions in 2006 the Borough pointed out to the developer that
            this was unacceptable.


      5.4. At the beginning of 2007, which was a full year after the Application had been submitted to the
            Borough, the developer approached the occupiers of these other properties whose noise levels

9
    Dr Niall Barr’s paper appended to Mr. Richard Spencer’s Proof of Evidence
                                                                                                                      6
         were predicted to exceed the upper limits. They were encouraged to sign a contract and accept an
         annual £500 monetary gift to allow conducting material to be laid through their gardens (premises) -
         even though these premises weren’t on any planned cable runs.


     5.5. No mention of noise levels was brought up. The householders were unaware of the real reason for
         the developer approaching them with “generous” offers of unsolicited annual monetary gifts - or
         what range of protections on noise levels they would loose by their signing the contract. These
         occupiers could now be classified as being “financial involved” with the development and so they
         could be subjected to higher levels of noise than permitted for the rest of the local population.


     5.6. With regard to those residents who’d signed the contract, Force 9 Energy expressed agreement
         with a statement that there is no longer any problem with (I quote)
       “turbine clusters lying in full view of (their) properties at close range .. .. this is not an issue of
                   10
       concern.”


     5.7. On 12 March 2007 the developer informed the Borough Council that “it had reached an agreement
         with the tenants who reside close to the proposed Barmoor Wind Farm .. .. .. pursuant to various
         agreements dated 12 March 2007 the following parties have a financial involvement in the proposed
         wind farm development .. .. etc.”
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        SOUL’s repeated attempts to engage with the developer on this matter were unsuccessful.


     5.8. In October 2007, following the Arup and Scott Wilson Reports, Catamount/Force 9 Energy was
         asked and complied with a request by the Borough to reduce the number of proposed turbines from
         9 to 6.

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     5.9. Just over two months before this Inquiry started, on 26 February 2009 , the developer suddenly
         claimed that all the candidate turbines for the Barmoor wind farm were to be completely changed!
         They were no longer to be the 3MW type – but were being changed to a 2.3 MW type which had
         both a lower rated out put and lower emission noise levels. Using these lower rated turbines it was
         stated that they could run without any constraints. Higher permissible noise limits wouldn’t be
         required for financially involved occupiers. (I presume these occupiers would still be getting their
         annual gifts!)




10
   Letter dated 2/6/2007 from J. Sturman, Force 9 Energy, to Berwick/Tweed Borough Council and to Blackett,
   Hart & Pratt. (Underlining by the present report author)
11
   Set out in detail in: Developer’s ploys undertaken to “satisfy” the Noise Level Guidelines, John A Ferguson,
   2008, 11p.
12
   SOUL representatives received a letter from the developer’s representative on 26 February 2009. It included:
“Thank you for your letter of 10 February. We appreciate your early confirmation that you will not be calling a
technical noise witness on behalf of SOUL at the forthcoming inquiry. We note what you say in relation to noise limits
and a landowner involvement. It may help if we confirm now that the appellant will not be proposing higher permissible
noise limits for involved occupiers. The evidence of Dr Bullmore will propose for all properties the same absolute quiet
daytime noise limit with the alternatives (whichever is the greater) of 5dB above the background noise level. We will be
sending you a noise report relating to the VS82 machine within two weeks.”
                                                                                                                        7
                                 rd
     5.10.        However on 3 April 2009 I was informed by Force 9 Energy that the energy output and
                                                                                                           13
         CO2 saving would still be based on 3 MW turbines and the issue would not be revisited.                 This then
         turned out to be contradicted by Mr Frampton’s Proof of Evidence (para 5.64 and 5.65) where the
         energy and CO2 calculations assumed 2.3 MW turbines. The type of turbines being proposed was
         only finally confirmed on Friday (22 May 2009) after a request for such confirmation from SOUL.


     5.11.        I offer this noise episode to give an indication of the difficulties encountered by a group, such
         as SOUL, in engaging with the developer’s changing documents and actions and in being able to
         present a cogent and robust case in opposition to a proposal.        ] ~




6. Residential survey
     6.1.         In order to supply information for a Critique of the Environmental
                          14
         Statement,            my wife and I carried out a Residential and Turbine Visibility
         Survey of the 454 houses and residential caravans which were situated within
         3 kms of the original nine turbine proposal. A number of people were either
         curious about our activities or asked if they could help. We told them we were
         carrying out a survey to find out the degree to which the turbines would be
         visible from their homes. All of the occupants, who enquired about the survey,
         offered their reaction to the proposed Barmoor wind farm - 80% opposed the
         proposal, 10% were in favour and 10% had no opinion. A number of those who
         expressed opposition, were extremely angry with both the land owners and the
         developers.




7. Correspondence

13
   An e-mail from John Ferguson, dated 08 March 2009 requested to be supplied with, for the Siemens VS82 turbines:
        i.    A copy of the VS82 specification.
       ii.    The new ZVIs.
      iii.    The new calculations of likely savings in carbon dioxide emissions arising from the generating potential of
              the Barmoor turbines.
      iv.     The calculation of predicted electricity produced and number of households supplied.
     The Reply from Andrew Smith of Force 9 Energy, dated 03 April 2009:
     Dr Ferguson,
     Apologies but the email copied below did not seem to go through so copied below for convenience. Further to the
     emails you have received today and in response to points i) ii) iii) and iv) of your email:
        i.    On point one we have issued you with a specification for the VS82 turbine.
       ii.    We are not proposing to promote a change to the maximum blade tip height of the turbines, or the
              proposed maximum hub height and therefore no new ZVIs are deemed necessary.
      iii.    There is still a commercially available turbine available to the site which has a maximum capacity of
              3MW and fits with the design and noise parameters which would be secured by condition on the grant of
              any consent. As such we have not revisited the issue.
      iv.     As above.
14
   Barmoor Northumberland. Critique of the Environmental Statement on landscape, visual impact and other issues,
   Geoffrey Sinclair, September 2006, 29p.
                                                                                              8
       7.1.        We carried out another analysis of all 950 letters/cards sent to Berwick
           upon Tweed Borough Council by individuals, objecting to or supporting the
           Barmoor application up until July 2007 and 26 letters from organisations and
           businesses in opposition or support.15 Mr Frampton remarks in his Proof of
           Evidence (para 2.5) that: "In additional 504 „standard‟ objections slips were
           received by the LPA." It‟s incorrect to describe these as „standard‟ objections
           slips.' They were cards with a space in which objectors, if they wished, could
           set down their objections to the scheme. The only „standard thing‟ was that the
           address was pre-printed.


       7.2.         We found that 91% of the individuals opposed the proposal and 9%
           supported it and of the businesses or organisations 58% opposed it.
           Interestingly no local business or organisation expressed any support for the
           Application. Those 91% of individuals in opposition expressed their feelings
           about the landscape and the environment around the Barmoor site in
           appreciative terms. This was in striking contrast to the attitude of a writer who
           supported the proposal, who went so far as to describe an uninteresting and
           featureless landscape which would be enhanced and complemented by
           turbines.


       7.3.        Clearly there is an irreconcilable difference of opinion in the two opposing
           camps about the qualities which give rise to perceptions of beauty, value and
           tranquillity in a landscape.


       7.4.        The letters which were written in opposition to a Barmoor windfarm were
           not geographically limited to Northumberland. Many came from outside the
           county and included letters with addresses in Belgium, Switzerland, Australia
           and the USA.        None in support came from so far afield.


       7.5.        A number of correspondents were “amazed”, or “appalled”, or “found it
           incredible” that Berwick Borough Council could countenance considering such
           enormous structures being erected on the Barmoor site, particularly when the
           Council had a history of conscientious attention to the details of visual amenity.


15
     Correspondence with Berwick Vol. I, John & Ann Ferguson, 2007, 47p.
     Correspondence with Berwick Vol. II, John & Ann Ferguson, 2007, 30p.
     Summary and update: Correspondence with Berwick, John & Ann Ferguson, 2007, 4p.
                                                                                         9
   The application was seen to be in conflict with the Borough‟s established
   planning directives and precedents.


7.6.     Others pointed out that whilst a few landowners would benefit financially,
   these landowners had not taken into account the needs of the wider local
   community. The majority of people would suffer a loss of amenity and/or
   financially whereas the landowners would gain. It was considered to be unjust
   that residents whose living depends on the unspoilt beauty of the area should
   be blighted by business opportunists.


7.7.     Tourism was a major theme of the letters and it was pointed out that
   local people had developed many facilities for tourists over the years. It was
   believed that these initiatives were being put in jeopardy by those seeking
   approval for the wind farm. Many other writers who were, or who had been,
   visitors to the area, remarked directly or implied that they were unlikely to
   return if the application were approved. Others, who were in the process of
   moving permanently to the area, said that they were rethinking their plans.


7.8.     The negative effect on the tourism industry in the vicinity of a wind farm,
   before and after it becomes operational, is the only sure way of obtaining some
   measure of its effect on tourism. Thankfully this type of information is now
   starting to become available.


7.9.     A number of the letter writers referred to visiting the Barmoor area to
   escape from industrialised areas and even to escape from the creeping
   intrusion of turbines near to their homes. Barmoor turbines were seen as
   industrialising the countryside.


7.10.    Both camps have exhorted the public to write to the Council about the
   Barmoor site. However, when nearly 1000 people take the trouble to sit down
   and correspond with a Borough Council about a single local issue it indicates an
   unusual intensity of feeling. When an overwhelming majority of over 90% are
   in critical opposition we trust that such levels of opposition will be treated with
   respect.
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8. Broad Area of Least Constraint
     8.1.        One of the reasons for the selection of a Broad Area of Least Constraint
         („W‟ area) to the south and west of Berwick was because Benson had defined it
         as Open Rolling Farmland. This didn‟t automatically mean that suitable sites
         would be available throughout the area. In fact Benson confirms that there are
         many variations in each landscape type.16 For most of its extent the Barmoor
         site is one of those sections of the „W‟ which would be difficult to describe as
         typical of Open Rolling Farmland and in addition it abuts and would dominate
         an Outcrop Hill and Escarpment which is of considerable archaeological
         interest.


     8.2.        In spite of this the Catamount witness (Mr van Grieken) claimed that he
         is satisfied that both “the siting and the design” of the Barmoor Wind Farm had
         “been undertaken to reduce and avoid landscape and visual effects as much as
         possible”17.       How was it that in this claimed careful selection of a site the
         developer ended up with one, which in terms of its micro Landscape Character
         Type, seems to be one of the most unsuitable in the whole of the „W‟ area? I
         suggest it was purely and simply because the developer discovered there
         compliant land owners? Furthermore, in terms of the wind farm design, the
         constraints on the ground mean that there is limited choice in the positioning
         of the turbines.




9. [Sub-station Location

     9.1. One of the key principles of PPS22 requires that the environmental impact of any
          proposal be “minimised”: Development proposals should demonstrate .. .. .. how any
          environmental, social impacts have been minimised through careful consideration of
          location, scale, design and other measures. 18

     9.2. In the amended proposal, of October 2007, for a six turbine installation, the new
          location of the sub-station does not appear to have been determined in accordance
          either with this key principle set out in PPS22 or with the stated aim of the developer
          “to cause least visual intrusion” 19 or with a desire that it would “be difficult to see from
          the road” 20 as set out in the original Environmental Statement.

     9.3. It would be expected that in order to minimise the visual impact of the sub-station it
          would be located within or close to the turbine layout, for example between turbines 4

16
   Landscape Appraisal for Onshore Wind Development, John Benson et al, 2003, para 2.2.2.
17
   Marc van Grieken’s Proof of Evidence, para 9.51
18
   PPS22, para. 1.
19
   Vol. 1 ES, para. 6.622.
20
   Vol. 1 Environmental Statement, paras. 6.163, 6.170 & 6.218.
                                                                                                                11
            and 6. By doing this, its visibility would be low and it would be well away from traffic
            on the B6353 Lowick to Ford road.

       9.4. However, it‟s proposed to locate the sub-station to the north of the B6353, adjacent to
            the road, in a highly visible position and at the junction with the roadway to
            Brackenside farm!

       9.5. In addition, this proposed location would require the cabling from the turbines being
            buried in a 300m long trench running parallel to the B6353 before passing under this
            road. It doesn‟t appear that any effort has been made to comply with the requirements
            of PPS22 to “minimise” this environmental impact. I make a plea for a Condition to be
            applied for the sub-station to be located south of the road, within the layout of the
            revised six turbine scheme, then its visibility would be “minimised” as required by
            PPS22. ]




                                              Proposed sub-station location

                                                       ~~~~~~~~
10.        Our Landscape
       10.1.        The turbines would appear to be massively out of scale with our local
            topography. Their height (from base to blade tip) would be similar to the rise
            from the coastal plain to the upland on which they would be situated.21 This
            would be compounded by the effects of rotor movement and a site curving
            over some 3 kms of our upland scenery. It‟s my considered opinion that once
            the Cheviot skyline has been broken the beauty of north Northumberland will
            be seriously compromised.




21
     110m turbine height compared with 130m above sea level to the base of the highest altitude turbine no. 6
                                                                                                              12
     10.2.      An Inspector wrote that “the movement of the blades when breaking a
         skyline appears even more discordant to the eye as the movement appears
         intermittent, disconnected from the structure as a whole and so has the
         capacity to startle”22.        – In other words, the stillness and sense of space that
         makes our landscape so special would be lost.


     10.3.      There are others who have spoken of this special sense of place. The
         historian George Macaulay Trevelyan is often quoted in this context with his
         words that, "In Northumberland alone both heaven and earth are seen” it is
                                           23
         “the land of far horizons.”


     10.4.      Trevelyan‟s great nephew continues the family tradition of concern for
         the Northumberland landscape when considering wind farm proposals.24 He
         draws the readers‟ attention to the Integrated Regional Framework produced
         by the North East Assembly (2004) with its important proclaimed aim of
         achieving a better quality of life by:
        “protecting and enhancing the quality and distinctiveness of the region's rural
        land and landscapes.”


     10.5.      W. F. Deedes, Lord Deedes, the journalist, politician and Fleet Street
         editor wrote shortly before he died in 2007:
        “Where do I go now in our land to find tranquillity? .. .. Some would point to
        Northumberland.”


     10.6.      Barmoor Castle and its grounds have a strong link with the proposed
         wind farm site which was once part of the Barmoor estate. This was by way of
         the Beech Walk which was used on a daily basis by the Sitwell family who
         owned and developed the estate between 1791 and 1978. This walk had beech
         trees planted on both sides,


     10.7.       Going up the West Drive in the direction of Moss Wood, a magnificent
         view presented itself across Barmoor South Moor to the distant Cheviot Hills.
         This view, with its peace and stillness, was considered to be an important


22
   CD 17.51, Mynydd y Gwrhyd, para 18.
23
   Middle Marches, 1914.
24
   Robin Dower, the great nephew of George Macaulay Trevelyan, in the Journal of the Northumberland and Newcastle
Society, November 2005.
                                                                                                                   13
         feature of the Barmoor Estate. This is the very view whose features of such
         stillness and calm would be destroyed by a Barmoor wind farm.


     10.8.       Thomas Hodgkin (1831-1913), the noted historian and antiquarian25 lived
         at Barmoor Castle. He regularly availed himself of this view over Barmoor
         South Moor towards the Cheviots. I quote from his biography:
        “No visitor was long at Barmoor without being taken that short walk outside the
        grounds to a spot from which could be seen 'the Cheviots slumbering in the
        sunshine.' All lovers of Northumberland cherish a very special feeling for these
        hills, and rejoice when they see on the horizon the long flat ridge of Cheviot
        and the smaller peaks that cluster round. From many points the Cheviots look
        little more than a range of low undulating hills, but from the moors or in certain
        lights, no one could deny their right to be called mountains, and in the winter
        the line of snow on their summits stands out white against the sky.”26


     10.9.       In her day Constance Sitwell (1887-1974) was known as a novelist and
         biographer. She was married to the owner of the Barmoor estate. She too
         praised these views across Barmoor South Moor towards the Cheviots:
        “We .. ..saw the lonely expanse of grass before us stretching away to the farm
        they called Barmoor South Moor. The far-away hills were all an even colour, as
        blue as a cornflower .. .. The air gave me not only the smell of the moisture and
        the growth of the earth, but the coolness of the hills and the freshness of the
        sea.”27


     10.10.      Every evening her son would set off up the old West Drive. He wrote:
        “Here the ferns were shoulder high, the peaty soil smelt rich and damp and
        there was peace. Then there were the Cheviots. .. .. they were, the blue hills,
        their contours standing out sharply against the greenish sky behind. Below lay
        Glendale, now just a shadow .. .. He breathed deeply and sighed to himself.
                                                                                                20
        What a pity there was no one with him to share the stillness .. ..”


     10.11.      Film stars including Greer Garson, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracey,
         Robert Helpmann and Hermione Baddeley would stay at Barmoor Castle to
         enjoy the estate and its views. Hermione Baddeley wrote in her autobiography

25
   See the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Thomas Hodgkin lived at Barmoor Castle from 1899 until 1913.
26
   Life and Letters of Thomas Hodgkin, Louise Creighton, Longmans Green, and Co., 1917.
27
   The Demise of the Barmoor Castle Estate, Northumberland, John & Ann Ferguson, 2009. 60p.
                                                                                               14
            about remaining at the castle for months surrounded by a wild beauty and of
            her joy in the local countryside.28


       10.12.      Visitors to our own cottage step out of their cars and remark, on the
            stillness and the quietness of our surroundings and on the fabulous scenery. In
            fact the cottage has been used by people on retreat because of these very
            qualities.




       10.13.      On a gentle evening, when there‟s a swell on the North Sea, we can hear
            the waves breaking at Goswick 10 kms away. To the south we can see Cheviot
            22 kms away and our view to the north extends to 40 kms covering over 200
            kms squared. We look out over this vista and we experience that stillness. The
            only movements we can see over such a vast panorama are are those of birds
            and foliage. The only sounds we usually hear are the cries of the birds.


       10.14.      Rightly the word “tranquility” is used about our part of the world but it‟s
            more than that – there‟s that peaceful stillness. There is little left of such a




28
     The Unsinkable Hermione Baddeley, Hermione Baddeley, Collins, 1984.
                                                                                            15
      quality in our bustling country. How we need to protect it against the
      imposition of vast churning machines.




11.   Final Comment
  11.1.     Given that the construction of a wind farm has such massive
      consequences on the appearance and attractiveness of an area and on the
      experiences of the local population, as well as those who visit it, I bitterly
      regret that the landowners who seek to benefit financially from the present
      proposals, and impose their agenda on us all, made no effort to discover, and
      so took no account of, the reactions of the community at large before
      negotiating an option with the developer which allowed these Applications to
      proceed.


  11.2.     The Barmoor plans had already been drawn up when five Parish Councils
      conveyed the results of their votes to the Borough. All five opposed it and it
      was stated that there were unanimous or overwhelming votes against the
      proposal as well as sizable majorities in public opposition from those who
      contributed to surveys undertaken by the Parish Councils.


  11.3.     I have spoken to a farmer of the Brackenside land which lies immediately
      to the north of the proposed Barmoor site. It was confirmed to me this week
      that a new proposal from Catamount to increase the number of turbines on the
      Barmoor site, by extending northwards, would be welcomed and that there
      was in fact a desire from this quarter to have as many wind turbines as
      possible in the area. I therefore have a deep sense of forboding that yet
      another Application to add more turbines to the present proposed site, or for
      even a new site, is already waiting in the wings.


  11.4.     These enormous turbines are another order of magnitude bigger than
      anything which has ever been seen here before. All three proposals are a
      massive imposition on hundereds of people in our community without any
      regard for their feelings. I believe that this imposition against their will is one
      of the reasons why there is such resentment. When we‟ve flown a blimp the
      reactions have been to the effect “I simply had no idea how enormous these
      things would be, how could they do it.”
                                                                                    16


11.5.    The Barmoor proposal has cost me three years of my life fighting it - and
   I‟m by no means alone in this. Some of the others are speaking here today.
   Our community has had to raise locally many tens of thousands of pounds to
   fight just this one proposal - out of the three before this Inquiry. This
   dedication and this fund raising have been carried out in a community which is
   neither large nor affluent. Such a level of commitment gives some expression
   to our deep concern for our area - its landscape, its history, its culture and its
   future.


                                                                       John Ferguson
                                                                           May 2009

								
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