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Hundreds turn out to archaeological dig at Batsworthy wind farm site

PUBLISHED: 17:32 23 July 2014 | UPDATED: 09:05 25 July 2014

Wessex Archaeology's Ray Kennedy and Pete Capps at the excavation site at Batsworthy Cross on Wednesday

Wessex Archaeology's Ray Kennedy and Pete Capps at the excavation site at Batsworthy Cross on Wednesday

Archant

Rare medieval settlement and pottery discovered on nine-turbine wind farm site

The excavation site at Batsworthy Cross on Wednesday The excavation site at Batsworthy Cross on Wednesday

HUNDREDS turned out to an archaeological dig at Batsworthy today (Wednesday) after plans for a nine-turbine wind farm on the site were given the green light.

Energy firm RWE, who received planning permission for the site in October 2012, enlisted the services of Wessex Archaeology to excavate what is thought to be a medieval settlement dating back to the 11th or 12th century.

Even before the open day, an ancient track way, abandoned field systems and the remains of a fairly large building were found on the site, off the A361 at Knowstone.

Pieces of ancient pottery were also found during the day.

The excavation site at Batsworthy Cross on Wednesday The excavation site at Batsworthy Cross on Wednesday

Wessex Archaeology project manager Gareth Chaffey said the open day had generated a ‘fantastic response’, but conceded that any findings would not stop the development.

“Clearly people are interested in knowing what’s here,” he said. “This kind of size and shape of structure is quite rare by all accounts.

“Excavations like this are common place in any planning process. The main focus is to make sure everything is preserved.”

But there are still a vocal number of local residents who believe the wind farm will ‘spoil’ the landscape and ‘be a danger to link road users’.

Richard Delf, of Higher Swinham, said: “I’m slightly concerned to learn that once work is finished here, the site will be turned over to the developer for them to commence without waiting for the interim report to be issued.

“If experts say the implications are more important than it appears it is then too late.

“I think this is a totally unspoilt part of North Devon. It’s very exposed and it seems wrong to plant an industrial site in such a prominent position, visible from Exmoor and Dartmoor.

“A lot of people come to Devon for its unspoilt countryside; not to look at wind farms.”

David Morgans, of Roachill, said: “The revelation of the medieval building structure at Batsworthy proved that the past is much more worthy of preservation than the moronic turbines future of the site will be.”

Resident Joanne Bell added: “This was merely a box ticking exercise. Presumably the costs of this will ultimately be passed on to energy consumers.

“Clearly, no matter what artefacts are found RWE have stated that the turbines will go ahead.

“The planning approval was for nine turbines - already they are now asking for three additional ones. Will we eventually see 22-turbines to compete with the Fullabrook disaster?

“No Bat Survey has been undertaken as per Conditions. A very sad day for North Devon.”

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