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Sunday, 3 March 2024

Ted Hughes Estate Backs the Campaign to Stop Calderdale Wind Farm

From Stop Calderdale Wind Farm

Following their successful public meeting at Wadsworth Community Centre in December, Stop Calderdale Wind Farm campaigners have been distributing thousands of leaflets door to door in and around Hebden Bridge and the Upper Calder Valley.

Their website has also been raising community awareness of the negative impact that this huge development consisting of 65 gigantic turbines would have on the strikingly beautiful landscape and rich cultural heritage of Calderdale and neighbouring Brontë Country.

As previously reported on Hebweb, the Stop Calderdale Wind Farm campaign has already attracted support from a number of high-profile individuals, including photographer Martin Parr. The Ted Hughes Estate, run by Carol Hughes (widow of the Mytholmroyd-born Poet Laureate) is also backing the campaign, along with leading academics from the Ted Hughes Society and the Ted Hughes Network.

Ted Hughes, who is widely revered as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, was deeply inspired by the moorland landscape and wildlife of the Upper Calder Valley. Several of Hughes's poems from Remains of Elmet, his homage to Calderdale, are featured on the Stop Calder Windfarm website courtesy of the Ted Hughes Estate.

"Being able to share some of Ted Hughes's poems is a great privilege," say Stop Calderdale Wind Farm campaigners. 'No one understood and appreciated the landscape of Calderdale better than Ted Hughes, or wrote about it so evocatively. We're fighting to save his literary heritage as well as the countryside and wildlife he loved.

Ted Hughes himself was a committed environmental campaigner. He strongly opposed the Flaight Hill Wind Farm proposal above Pecket Well near Hebden Bridge, which was successfully defeated 30 years ago in 1994. The Walshaw Moor Estate is just a stone's throw from Flaight Hill and would completely ruin Crimsworth Dean, the valley he cherished, so there's no doubt he would have been fighting this proposal tooth and nail if he was still around.'

Plan of Walshaw Moor Estate showing location of the
65 turbines proposed by Calderdale Wind Farm Ltd

Dr Steve Ely, Director of the Ted Hughes Network at the University of Huddersfield, is adamant that the wind farm proposal must be unequivocally rejected: 'The imposition of this alien industrial development on the area would be an affront to the human spirit Hughes's work embodied, and a triumph of faceless and
destructive capital over nature, landscape, community and art he so valued.'

Golden Plover © Stop Calderdale Wind Farm

The rich wildlife and habitats of Walshaw Moor and the stunning landscape of the Upper Calder Valley, which includes the National Trust estate of Hardcastle Crags, have inspired numerous writers from the Brontës to Sylvia Plath. An open letter opposing the wind farm was recently sent to the Times Literary Supplement by 350 contemporary writers, artists and environmentalists, including Sally Wainwright, Jeanette Winterson, Robert MacFarlane, Alan Ayckbourn, Frieda Hughes and Benjamin Myers.

Award-winning nature and travel writer Horatio Clare, who lives in Hebden Bridge, has written an impassioned letter to Calderdale Council (also published on Facebook and Hebweb), pleading with them to save Walshaw Moor. 'That particular fragment of the Pennines is unique,' he writes. 'The awful truth is, there aren't very many of them left in Britain. But this is one. Curlews, plover, lapwings, wheatears, chats, oystercatcher, hares, swallows, swifts, martins, short eared owls – and in a profusion you never see any more, in numbers you only find in books and pictures from the 1970s. A little bit of miraculous old Britain is still there.'

Curlew © Stop Calderdale Wind Farm

As the Stop Calderdale Wind Farm website highlights, many of the ground-nesting birds which return to Walshaw Moor each spring to breed are critically endangered. These birds have just started to arrive back on the moor to lay their eggs and rear their chicks. Many have distinctive long beaks specially adapted to prodding the boggy ground for worms. Walshaw Moor provides the perfect habitat, which is why they flock to the same nesting sites year after year. 'We think the curlews and lapwings must have heard about our campaign as there seem to more of them than ever this year,' say Stop Calderdale Wind Farm campaigners. 'This is good news – it's as though reinforcements have arrived!'

If the wind farm is given the go-ahead, however, the future is bleak for the ground-nesting birds on Walshaw Moor, especially the golden plover, which has the highest conservation status and is legally protected at a European level. Over 9 square miles of SSSI moorland would be carved up in order to excavate the deep foundations for the turbines and the vast network of access roads. The blanket peat bogs built up over thousands of years, which play a vital role in storing carbon and are as important in environmental terms as tropical rain forest, would be destroyed forever – and the birds who rely on them would disappear.

It is no surprise that when the wind farm proposal was announced last autumn, the RSPB tweeted: 'Of all the places to propose the largest windfarm in England, Walshaw Moor must be one of the WORST given the sensitivity of this location, with important carbon-rich peat soils, peatland habitat, wildlife interest and protected wildlife sites.'

Blake Dean, Hardcastle Crags. Several turbines will be visible
from this popular beauty spot. © Stop Calderdale Wind Farm

Opponents can sign up to the mailing list at the Stop Calderdale Wind Farm website to find out how to object and how to get involved in the campaign.

See also:

Stop Calderdale Wind Farm website

HebWeb News: Writers, artists and conservationists oppose windfarm. 23 Feb 2024

HebWeb News: Walshaw Moor wind farm - website launched (30 Jan 2024)

HebWeb Forum: Large Windfarm proposal (Oct 2023 - Jan 2024)

Guardian: What do Saudi developers know of Heathcliff? 7 Jan 2024

HebWeb News: Walshaw Moor Wind Farm Public Meeting 13 Dec 2023

HebWeb News: Large Windfarm proposed 26 Sept 2023

Facebook: Calderdale Windfarm Action Group (against)

Facebook: Calderdale Wind & Climate Action Group (for)

Turning Calderdale Green blog post:

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