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Hempnall gears up for wind farm battle

Villagers are preparing to launch an official campaign to fight proposals for a controversial wind turbine scheme at Hempnall.

Worried residents fear the project has moved a step closer with the granting of consent on Tuesday for a meteorological mast on land off Bussey’s Loke. This will enable developer Enertrag UK to gather information to establish the feasibility of siting a wind farm at the location.

When the application was first submitted, only one objection was received. But this quickly snowballed, with more than 30 protest letters sent to South Norfolk Council after the scheme was publicised in the local press.

The parish council opposed the mast on the grounds it would have a serious visual impact on the landscape.

Chairman Geoff Moulton said: “Contrary to earlier advises from the applicants that the mast was for environmental purposes, it emerged that this was a requirement of their bankers. This merely confirmed that the plan to erect a wind farm in the village is a capital project driven by the applicants and landowners, and one which will have no benefit to those of us seeking to reduce carbon emissions.

“Should such a development take place in Hempnall, the environmental impact on our peaceful, rural community would be devastating.”

Local district councillor Michael Windridge also has serious concerns about the scheme.

“Enertrag UK Ltd has now let the commercial cat out of the bag. Now we know that Enertrag’s proposal has nothing whatsoever to do with protecting the environment or seeking to address the problems of climate change. Their proposal is a profit-driven venture which will pay no regard whatsoever to its harmful impact on the south Norfolk countryside,” he said.

“The people of Hempnall are stirring themselves. Only one letter of objection had been received to the meteorological mast application last week. Yet on Tuesday night the planning officer reported that a further 34 residents had written in to object once press reports had alerted them to it.

“I am certain that many more people will be writing to the council to voice their concerns and am relieved that we have been granted a further 15 days to make additional representations to the planning department.”

Mr Windridge said a group of local residents has been working extremely hard to put together an official campaign opposing Enertrag’s proposal for seven wind turbines at Hempnall. It will be launched in the very near future.

South Norfolk’s south-west area planning committee authorised head of planning John Tomlinson to grant temporary two year consent for the mast, on expiry of the consultation period.