ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY

The turbines are to be built on precious peat land. They will drive out local wildlife and, together with the massive wind farms already approved at the Ray Estate near Kirkwhelpington (16), and at Greenrigg (18),Kirkheaton (3) and possibly Kirkharle (4: outcome pending), will cause enormous disruption across this landscape. In fact, the area around Ottercops Moss, immediately to the east of Middle Hill has been identified as a "Buffer zone" to mitigate the effect on the wildlife disturbed by the Ray Estates development.

Birds
Being mainly open moorland, the area is a vital resource for many species of birds, a number of which are rare and thrive in the very environment developments such as this one threaten to destroy for ever.

Raptors such as the Peregrine Falcon, Goshawk, Merlin Barn and Short-eared owl all have established nests near to Middle Hill and all will most certainly hunt across the moorland for prey species. Curlew - the bird used as the logo for Northumberland National Park, are a common sight and sound over Middle Hill and certainly nest on the site. being a species that tends to return to the same nest site year after year, the development could potentially cause major disturbance to the success of breeding pairs on and near the site. Other species such as Golden Plover, Skylark, Marsh Tit, Fieldfare, Reed Bunting, Snipe, Lapwing and Meadow Pipit are just some of the observed species on the site.

Vertebrates
Brown hare are common on and around the Middle Hill area. As are Britain's only venomous snake - The Adder. Adders have become scarce in many parts of the UK due to habitat damage, particularly on the destruction of their hibernation areas. Tumbled down and disused dry stone walls are particularly useful for this purpose - and Middle Hill is crisscrossed with them.

The importance of the site to species of bats can not be underestimated, in that whilst there are certainly not many (but by no means no) areas suitable for roosting bats, as a hunting ground it will be of vital importance. Despite initial impressions, Middle Hill is not just a wide open space. It is crisscrossed with a number of small streams and tributaries, meaning that there are channels cut through the landscape. In places, these channels form quite deep gorges complete with waterfalls. Any channel above moving or still water provides a natural shelter for breeding and hatching insects which in turn lead to an attractant for hunting bats.

The water courses also make the area a potential hunting ground for otters, indeed the species has been observed within 1km of the site.

Once again though, the impact upon the ecology and wildlife of this site can not be considered in isolation. In fact the area of Ottercops and Middle Hill are identified as crucial buffer zones in regard to the development of the wind turbines to be erected at the Ray Estate site very nearby. By granting approval to the development of this site, this will effectively compound the negative effect on the region's natural history which will be impossible to reverse.

Latent chemical pollution from the construction materials may affect local water sources for which many properties and farms rely upon. Water courses may also be altered causing damage and flooding to habitat and farmland.