Green energy giant Ecotricity has been accused of “pulling a fast one” after putting up a 50 metre test mast without planning permission.
The company got the go-ahead for two 100-metre permanent wind turbines on land at Shipdham, near Dereham, after a long running planning wrangle.
No work has started to erect them yet but last week the test mast was suddenly put up.
Ecotricity said the monitoring pole was needed to reassure financial backers for the turbine scheme that they would generate as much power as has been estimated.
The company insisted there is no threat to the project and the testing is purely part of a standard “due diligence” process.
When the applications for turbines were submitted, Ecotricity relied on previous measurements of wind speeds in Norfolk, but the financial backers want more detailed information about wind levels at Shipdham.
However, the mast going up without planning permission has angered campaigners who have been opposing the turbines.
Brian Kidd, chairman of CATSS (Campaign Against Turbines at Shipdham and Scarning), said: “They are jumping the gun and I think they are pulling a fast one. It is very naughty.”
He said the mast had appeared “out of the blue.”
Breckland Council principal planning officer Greg Britton confirmed the temporary mast would need planning permission but no application had been received.
He has contacted Ecotricity asking when an application would be submitted, how long it would be required for and whether it would delay erection of the turbines.
Ecotricity placed a public notice in Saturday’s EDP announcing it would be applying for temporary permission for the monitoring pole.
The anemometer calculates the average wind speed and direction and will allow the company to more accurately calculate the output of the turbines.
Current predictions are that the turbines will produce about nine billion units of electricity per year – enough to power about 2,700 houses.
Managing director of Ecotricity Vince Dale said: “Sustainable energy has never been more important and there is no time for these selfish backyard issues.
“There is a shortage of global wind-monitoring equipment and people to put them up.
“We got an unexpected window to put these up in Shipdham and thought we should take advantage of that.
“Nobody should think that this is a test of which could lead to a decision not to build the project. This is a due diligence exercise for the economic model.”
He said he had thought the company was covered by an earlier permission to put an anemometer on the site, granted by Breckland in 2001, but said he did not expect any objections to a retrospective application.
By Nick Heath and Ian Clarke
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