DESECRATION; History Seeps from the Walls of These Magnificent Homes. Now They and Countless Other Gems Are Threatened by the Mad March of the Wind Turbine

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Byline: by William Cash

A FEW weeks ago, a government planning inspector and a team of well-paid big energy company lawyers in dark suits showed up for a 'site visit' at the Manor House, Ashby St Ledgers, in Northamptonshire. Their visit was part of a public inquiry which was assessing the merits of building a wind farm nearby.

The famous manor is owned by Viscount Wimborne, a relation of Winston Churchill and the Duke of Marlborough. It is best known for the fact that the top room of the 15th-century gatehouse was the command centre for the Gunpowder Plot, when the manor was owned by Robert Catesby, who financed the attempt to blow up Parliament.

The manor's history -- with spectacular views from both sides of the gatehouse over the countryside (to make it easier to spot spies) -- has given Ashby St Ledgers an important place in British history. This same view, however, which the plotters surveyed so keenly to avoid detection in 1605, could now include industrial wind turbines.

While the house and gardens are owned by Viscount Wimborne, the surrounding land is not. Thus it is that an application to build wind turbines has been made.

In most countries, such historical significance would be cherished, but not in Britain today, where the ecoobsessed metropolitan political class's wilful desecration of our countryside is spinning out of control.

Yesterday, the Mail reported how Energy Secretary Chris Huhne has admitted that, in order to meet 'green' targets, Britain will have to build thousands more wind turbines. An analysis of official figures suggests up to 32,000 new turbines could be built in the next two decades, of which at least 6,000 would be onshore.

Because of EU targets slavishly signed up to by Huhne, as well as the Government's pledge to have 20 per cent of UK energy -- at a cost of more than [pounds sterling]100billion -- sourced from 'renewable energy' by 2020, some of Britain's most glorious and important homes and estates -- most of which are open to the public -- are under threat of being overshadowed by this new plague.

The ancient landscapes of much of Wales and Scotland have already been destroyed -- along with tourism, local jobs and property prices reduced by as much as 40 per cent by the wind farm epidemic. Montgomeryshire -- which used to be one of the UK's most beautifully unspoilt counties -- is turning into a wasteland of turbines.

While it is bad enough building turbines in remote rural areas, it seems to me to be twice as bad to do the same right next to some of the most beautiful and important houses in Britain.

In Scotland, historic Glamis Castle, where the Queen Mother was brought up and where the Prince of Wales courted Diana, is facing the threat of large windmills on its doorstep after planning permission was granted for a development.

NORTHAMPTONSHIRE in the English Midlands is a wind farm 'hot spot', and currently the worstaffected county in the UK -- with Shakespeare's Warwickshire quickly catching up, as well as the 'Blue Remembered Hills' of A.E. Housman's Shropshire, where Grade I-listed Morville Hall is under threat from a wind turbine application just next door to the historic estate, now owned by the National Trust.

Northamptonshire is the worst, though. Information provided by Daventry District Council in June showed the total number of turbines for which applications for development had been made rose from 68 to 102 in just six months.

One of the houses which could be affected is 18th-century Easton Neston, the Grade I country house which is regarded as one of Europe's greatest. The former home of Lord Hesketh -- once a Tory junior minister -- the property was bought for [pounds sterling]15 million nine years ago by Russian fashion boss Leon Max, who has spent tens of millions renovating it and restoring it to its former glory.

English architecture simply doesn't get better than Easton Neston, but there is now a wind farm proposal which, if it is allowed to go ahead, will spoil the surrounding historic landscape. …