by Sandy Gerrard

For nearly two years I have been writing about the wind farm development at Mynydd y Betws. Some shortcomings in the actions of the various agencies who are supposed to ensure that archaeological interests were safeguarded have been highlighted. The newly updated Google Map for the area illustrates the effect on the scheduled archaeology within the area better than words alone.

Google Map image of Mynydd y Betws showing the impact of the new wind farm on this rich archaeological landscape. The scheduled archaeology is highlighted in red and the position of the probable stone row shown in green.

Google Map image of Mynydd y Betws showing the impact of the new wind farm on this rich archaeological landscape. The scheduled archaeology is highlighted in red and the position of the probable stone row is shown in green.

There are eight scheduled monuments scattered over the mountain and the landscape in which they sit has been altered significantly. The aerial perspective provides a clear insight into the impact of the development and demonstrates the true scale of this venture. The landscape has been carved up and whilst scheduling has safeguarded the physical remains within the scheduled areas their context has been injured and many associated deposits destroyed. In addition to the scheduled archaeology there is a wide array of archaeological remains which have no protection. Some of these have been obliterated and others damaged. This wind farm has been built within a rich archaeological landscape whose integrity has inevitably been compromised.

In recent months there has been much discussion in the press regarding the impact of wind farm developments on the setting of monuments. Most recently Simon Thurley (Chief Executive, English Heritage) stated that the biggest challenge is “to find ways to stop the erection of wind farms and other eyesores from obscuring historic buildings and monuments”. This comment emphasises the difficulties in establishing ground rules for setting. The developers heritage consultants at Mynydd y Betws believed that the setting of a cairn would not be significantly affected beyond 10 – 15 metres, whilst Cadw believe that the setting of an historic garden will be affected by turbines over 2km away and at Thackson’s Well the planners agreed that proposed turbines 11km from the Grade I listed house would have an unacceptable impact on the setting.

Clearly it is going to be difficult to find a single answer. Perhaps the setting is not related to the distance but rather to the type of site affected. A Grade I building might perhaps require a bigger buffer zone than say a cairn or stone circle. These are discussions that we probably should already have resolved since Mynydd y Betws clearly demonstrates what will happen if we do not grasp this nettle firmly.

Finally, a question: does the Bancbryn cairn cemetery within the Mynydd y Betws wind farm have the dubious honour of being the closest scheduled monument to a turbine? The monument is 72m from the 110m high turbine and is certainly within the “impact zone” should the worst happen. Do you know of any other scheduled monuments that are closer?

____________________________________

For all previous and subsequent articles put Mynydd Y Betws in our Search Box.

See also this website and Facebook Group