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24 April 2005
The Thornborough henges saga continues

An 'exclusion zone' could be created around the 5,500-year-old Thornborough Henges in North Yorkshire (England) in a bid to protect its archaeology.
The eight-square mile area is one proposal revealed to residents at a meeting in West Tanfield, near Ripon, organised by consultants Atkins Heritage, commissioned by English Heritage and the Thornborough Henges Consultation Group to prepare a conservation plan for the area around the henges. The area under investigation includes the villages of Nosterfield and Thornborough and extends to the outskirts of the villages of Well, Kirklington, Howgrave and West Tanfield. However, local landowners and farmers are concerned such controls could hit their livelihoods.
     Project manager Andrew Croft said the aim of the plan, due to be completed by next March, will be to aid decisions on planning applications, archaeological research and landscape management. Mr Croft said the completed plan "would have no formal status" but landowners feared a "line on a map" would have implications for land use. "The outcome could affect all types of landowners," said farmer and landowner Christopher Bourne-Arton. Farmers were also concerned about a restriction on depth of ploughing potato farmer David Robinson, of Howgrave Hall, said a restriction of eight inches would put him out of business.
     The area covered by the plan includes Nosterfield Quarry, which has a pending planning application for quarrying at Ladybridge Farm, which at its nearest point is more than half a mile from the henges. Tarmac Northern Estates manager Bob Nicholson called for clear information on any possible restrictions. Mike Sanders, of the Friends of Thornborough Henges, the group campaigning for the protection of the ancient monument, said it was hoped North Yorkshire Council would act on recommendations from the conservation plan in future policy governing the use of the land. "We can understand farmers' concerns. They are major stakeholders who must be consulted," said Mr Sanders. He said subsidies or compensation could allow farmers to offer access to the henges, with the area benefiting from tourism income if the henges were open to the public.

Sources: Yorkshire Post Today (22 April 2005), This is Northallerton (23 April 2005)

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