Sunday, 18 May 2014

When is a farm not a farm?

Answer..when it includes the erection of wind or solar panels and it just so happens that another greedy landowner has decided to cash in on the subsidies provided by his greedy landowner chums in government and try to erect a solar pv array on the fields at the west of Prestwick Carr. I say array but the proposal covers the majority of the fields to the west of the access road and bridletrack covering some 170 acres. The above view would be covered with strings of the things mounted on legs 1m high with a total height of 3m. Green Switch Solutions acting on behalf of Prestwick Hall Estates says that 'the proposal would not have a significant effect on the environment' although the criteria under which this is assessed clearly avoids visual intrusion which is then dealt with by saying  'due to the panel height not exceeding 3m the visual impact of this proposal on the wider landscape will be limited'. Clever when most of these hedges are only 1.2m high and certainly no solace to the residents of Cheviot View seen in the distance and already threatened by housing developments to their rear.


It's early days of course and the application is currently only a screen application which asks the Planning Authority if they require an Environmental Impact Assessment to be carried out but it's a prelude to a full Planning Application. The council have consulted with Natural England whose stated purpose is to 'ensure that the natural environment is conserved, enhanced and managed for the benefit of present and future generations thereby contributing to sustainable development'. So you would imagine they may have some negative comment but apparently it's not located within, adjacent or in close proximity to an SSSI despite the two Prestwick Carr SSSI's currently under the stewardship of Northumberland Wildlife Trust being just 400m to the east and connected to the application site by the drainage system. I have taken the liberty of pointing that out to the dick (not his real name) who wrote the response.
Just in case there is some doubt as to the relevance of the site within the Prestwick Carr Reserve it is the only level grass area subject to intensive grazing and flooding making it an important habitat for both resident and migrant birds specifically Geese in autumn / winter of which Bean, Whitefront and Barnacle have all recently been recorded along with Whooper Swan. In spring Golden Plover (c500), Lapwing (c300) and Curlew (c100) gather prior to dispersal for breeding with large flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare on their return to Scandinavia. On spring passage Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Whimbrel and Wheatear are regular migrants with Black tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper other waders Shelduck and rarer species of duck such as Pintail and Gadwall if the area is flooded. Breeding birds include Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Skylark, Grey Partridge and Swallow with the fields being an important feeding ground for the other hirundines and Swifts along with Meadow Pipit, Linnets, Wagtails and most corvid species. Autumn passage will again see waders if flooding is present along with Whinchat and Stonechat. Rare birds have frequently been recorded on the application site including in recent years Great White Egret, Little Stint, Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper Spotted Redshank, Dunlin, Ruff, Bar tailed Godwit, Greenshank, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Mediterranean Gull and Little Gull.
Barn Owls are present locally and Short eared Owls in autumn / winter. Pipistrelle Bats roost and feed on / adjacent the site and possibly Noctule Bats feed in September. There is some hope that a Water Vole population will be re-established now that the Mink population has been brought under control and Otters must use the drains edging the site. The open nature of the fields seems particularly attractive to Hares which are centered on this area of the Carr.
When there are acres of flat supermarket and warehouse roofs you could put solar panels on why put them in the rural landscape. Answer....it's easier and of course there's the profit to think about.

7 comments:

  1. Its difficult to know what to say without swearing

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  2. This precisely why blogs such as yours are so important in documenting the wildlife and conservation interest of a site or location over a lengthy period of time rather than snap shot taken by some survey contractors; it's real evidence. It is imperative to assemble the largest group around the objections as possible; residents and users, visitors and national bodies. However, as it stands the scheme has every chance of being approved as unpleasant as that is to consider. A Plan B would be prudent.

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  3. good job you are on the ball when it comes to stuff like this good luck fighting the greedy landowners

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  4. good luck routing the greedy landowners these solar panels will be a blot on the landscape

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  5. We are fighting Greenswitch in Lancashire, a very unscrupulous company. The have "public" meetings but forget the tell the public!! They care nothing about the countryside and the wildlife in it, all they care about is ££££££'s we will fight them every inch of the way, good luck with your fight

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