October 25, 2006

Green power boss in turbine battle

A scheme to build up to 12 giant turbines on a field near Swaffham is heading for rejection by planning officials.

The project, currently the subject of preliminary consultation, is being proposed by Ecotricity, the company that built the two existing turbines near the A47 on the edge of town.

Managing director Dale Vince indicated during negotiations with Breckland Council that he might be prepared to reduce the size of the project.

He also said that he had a proposal that would be of major benefit to the people of Swaffham but he was unable to give any details at this stage.

But local opposition is building against the proposal which would involve a dozen 278ft (85m) generators – the same height as the existing pair – north of the A47.

Area planning officer Greg Britton said: “We have had a meeting with Ecotricity and told them that in the officers’ opinion – and it is only officers’ opinion at this stage – the application would be unacceptable.

“This is because of the cumulative effect of the new turbines with the existing ones. It would just be too much. The landscape won’t take it.

“We have advised them that an application would not be supported by officers and we don’t believe it would be supported locally, either.”

Sporle and Palgrave Parish Council is gearing up to lodge a formal objection with Breckland, while Swaffham town councillors have asked for more information before making a decision.

Sporle chairman Martin Hickey said there was still a threat from a previous bid for 10 turbines in the village from another company and pointed out that eight generators were now going up at nearby North Pickenham.

He complained that figures given for the amount of electricity produced by wind farms was often exaggerated and said it would take a turbine development the size of Dartmoor to produce the same power as a basic power station.

He added that while one or two turbines could be acceptable, “as wind farms they can destroy the beauty of the countryside and endanger bird life”.

Mr Hickey said: “Even the term wind farm is disingenuous, giving the impression of idyllic, natural country life. The truth is they are industrial energy parks.”

Mr Vince said he was hoping to organise meetings with Breckland’s senior staff and councillors to discuss the issue.

“It’s very early days and it’s too early for them to come to a conclusion yet. We have some ideas we want to put to them that we can’t go public on at the moment but it is something we’d like to do for the benefit of Swaffham. “We’re keen on this project and feel there’s an argument for concentrating turbines in one part of Breckland instead of spreading them all across the district.”

By Peter Williamson


URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2006/10/25/green-power-boss-in-turbine-battle/