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The dilemma of things past versus our future

by Bruno Van de Casteele

December 9, 2012

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Donate I really like alternative energy sources, like wind energy. I also like history, especially archeology. But sometimes the two come into conflict, and in the following case I'm not really sure what to think.

Take for instance the Duddo Five Stones. It's an ancient sandstone circle in northern England. There was a plan to build a wind turbine nearby, 74 meters high. Not smack in the middle of it, mind you, just a couple of hundred meters away.

But the probable reason these stones were placed there some thousand years ago, is that you have a 360° panoramic view of the landscape. So the wind turbine would certainly spoil the view.

Now I'm a fan of wind energy as an alternative source for electricity. Given a big enough area, there will always be some wind somewhere, including at night. This ensures a steady (be it only partial) supply. I think we should invest in it a lot more. I'm also assuming the company (3R Energy Solutions) thought this through. The siteseems rather unpopulated(seeGoogle Maps), and the wind conditions are probably very good.

However, the county council of Northumberland rejected unanimously the proposal beginning of October. They followed theadvice from the County Archeologist.My first reaction was: great, don't spoil our heritage. But then I doubted: such turbines will always spoil a bit the view. And the Northumberland specifically liststhat they will take into account "loss of a view" when considering applications. When that counts for persons, why do we accept it nevertheless as a valid reason for a mere five stones?

I'm still thinking that it was probably a good decision, and that we should value our landscapes as heritage. There are still plenty of good sites around with less (pre)historic value. We should be careful how we "spend" our landscapes, and be respectful of those which appreciated it before us. But we should also be mindful for those coming after us, so sometimes tough choices will have to be made.But what do you think, dear reader?

Tip of the hat to Stone PagesandThe Heritage Journalfor the news article.

by Bruno Van de Casteele

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