There appears to be a situation within the Borough of Pendle where part of the district is deemed to be of “Outstanding Natural Beauty” while the remainder is considered to be of such low intrinsic value it can be liberally scattered with wind turbines.
Leaving aside the arguments for and against these structures, my concern is that current planning policy regarding the recent flood of such applications appears to be highly discriminatory.
In the first week of November a planning officer advised the local committee that an application at Reedley should be rejected on the grounds that: “The scale and prominence would impact upon the openness of the green belt”. In marked contrast, on the following day, another planning officer advised the Nelson committee the application at Shelfield Hill should be allowed because: “The development is acceptable in terms of visual and residential amenity”.
We have, then, official opinion writ large. The Reedley application falls within the transition zone of the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty while the Shelfield (Nelson) application is located within an area designated as Industrial Foothills and Fringes within the Natural Character Area of the South Pennines.
Here we have a view of our local landscape use, topology, heritage and amenity as laid down by agencies outside of our area. The Borough of Pendle has been divided into two disparate areas of landscape characterisation and it is apparen the local planning authority considers the surroundings of Pendle Hill to be of intrinsically higher “value” than Boulsworth Hill and its northern environs of Nelson and Colne.
I have been involved in the running of an archaeological project covering the whole of the district of Boulsworth from Wycoller to Burnley and, two years into the project, I can state categorically this area is of national archaeological importance. In fact, the Mesolithic upland landscape of Boulsworth is now being recognised as the finest of its type in the world. Our results show extremely rare Middle Bronze Age ditched enclosures in Nelson, formerly unrecognised minor Iron Age hillforts, numerous prehistoric settlement sites, an ancient network of ancient trading trackways, religious, ritual and burial sites, monuments and lost Medieval buildings.
We also have, of course, the Class A Iron Age hillfort of Castercliffe: an enclosed site we now know extends to over 220 acres. Unfortunately, this national treasure is scarred by landfill tipping, its ancient ditches are being filled with rubble; it is unceremoniously crowned by a communications mast and housing development steadily consumes the Iron Age field systems surrounding it. Would this be allowed to happen in the Forest of Pendle?
Contrary to the opinion of planning officers, the visual amenity of the uplands of Nelson and Colne is nothing short of stunning. My concern, therefore, is that the historic and landscape importance of the “Cinderella” district of Boulsworth is not recognised by Pendle Council and in consequence is considered as a sacrificial planning zone.
John A. Clayton