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Historical authority objects to SSE proposal
Dear Mr Reeves
Re: Churchover Wind Farm R10/2303
I am writing to express my opposition to SSE’s application for the construction of nine industrial wind turbines in excess of 125 metres in height (plus access roads, a mast and other buildings) in countryside north of Churchover.
The application is unacceptable because:
There could not have been a proposal that was more designed to destroy the archeological and historical connection between the land around Churchover and the deserted medieval village of Cestersover and the associated ridge and furrow of both settlements than SSE’s wish to build 9 wind turbines and the associated roads etc.
The Rugby Borough’s own landscape windfarm capacity consultants mention the importance of conserving the ridge and furrow and so ASWAR asked David Hall the leading expert and most prominent academic in this area of study to review the relevant land and give us a report on his findings.
David Hall has been studying this subject most of his life and has written two books on the subject and there is nobody in England who is more authoritative.
His findings are below:-
“Churchover ridge and furrow
Ridge and furrow was formed as a result of the ploughing methods used by medieval and more recent farmers who operated an open-field strip method of farming. Each ridge represents an ancient strip. After enclosure, hedges were set and farms based on a system of intermixed strips were abandoned for equivalent areas lying in ring-fenced ‘modern’ farms. In the case of Churchover, this occurred in 1755 (Tate and Turner 1978, 256). Thereafter some fields were left as permanent pasture which preserved the strips as ridges. A description of open-field farming and its historical context has been given (Hall 1982).
Ridge and furrow forms an attractive part of the landscape in some areas. Although once common in the Midlands, especially on the Warwickshire-Northamptonshire border, it is now a fast diminishing resource, as more farms convert to an arable economy because of low dairy returns. In 2001 English Heritage made an assessment of Midland ridge and furrow, recommending some 40 important national sites that should be preserved as far as possible (Hall 2001). Churchover was not part of that list, but never-the-less should be preserved as far as possible, especially in view of its relationship to Cestersover. The 2001 English Heritage analysis identified samples of ridge and furrow adjacent to medieval settlement earthworks as of importance.
Within the area of the proposed windfarm, the surviving ridge and furrow forms a block north of Churchover next to meadowland by the River Swift, and links directly with the village to include river loop to the north-west and shrunken village earthworks on the west. Across the Swift, the deserted village of Cestersover has well- preserved earthworks and more ridge and furrow. There are interesting variations in the profile of the ridge and furrow that will reflect its age and subsequent land-use, and enhances the historical potential and interest.
The whole block represents a well preserved piece of medieval landscape worthy of preservation. It places Churchover and Cestersover villages in their agricultural context, both archaeologically and as a visual asset to Churchover and neighbouring villages, as well as Rubgy Borough generally.
Comments on the proposed site.
The proposed turbine generators represent a disastrous destructive intrusion into this landscape. As well as the permanent adverse visual effect, there will be extensive damage caused by the site construction with its linking trackways.
This will affect the ridge and furrow itself, as well as any underlying archaeological remains. In the event of the site going ahead, then any preconstruction archaeological work should include recording buried soil profiles and older furrows that may lie under the ridges, as well as identifying other structures such as Roman remains.
Hall, D., 1982. Medieval Fields, Shire Publications (reprinted 2010).
Hall, D. 2001. Turning the Plough (English Heritage and Northants County Council).
Tate, W.E. and Turner, M. E. 1978. A Domesday of English enclosure acts and awards.”
To help in understanding the extent of the ridge and furrow and the Cestersover earthworks, enclosed is a map of the area showing the turbines and roads. Also if ‘flash earth’ is googled and Churchover searched and zoomed-in, the satellite pictures show the Cestersover earthworks and the associated ridge and furrow across the area quite clearly.
We would ask Rugby Borough to reject this proposal that will destroy a large part of the historical connection between the settlement and the area of land that has supported it over time and continues to provide a visual asset to this beautiful, historic meandering valley and the many who use it as a rural amenity.