A wind power company has been accused of “bullying” local people and showing “contempt and disregard for the planning system” as a five-year wrangle over new turbines took another twist.
Bosses of Ecotricity are being summoned to appear before Breckland Council’s development control committee to explain why they put up a 50-metre high test mast at Shipdham without consent and why it is needed.
The company put up the pole to get wind data to reassure financial backers who are financing two 100-metre high turbines on the site.
The turbines were twice refused permission by Breckland, but were approved after a second public inquiry.
A High Court challenge is currently being pursued by objectors and there is a chance permission for the turbines could be quashed.
On Monday, Breckland councillors and objectors launched a furious attack on Ecotricity and members agreed to defer making a decision on the retrospective application for the test mast.
Ecotricity bosses are to be asked to a future meeting to “explain themselves.”
Local councillor Theresa Hewett said people’s lives had been “put on hold” for five years because of the wrangle.
She claimed Ecotricity had treated Breckland and residents “with little more than contempt.”
Brian Kidd, chairman of Campaign Against Turbines at Shipdham and Scarning (CATSS), said the company had insisted for five years that a test mast was not needed and then “out of the blue” had put one up.
“In reality this is a pre-cursor for an application for more turbines on the site.”
He accused Ecotricity of riding “roughshod” over the planning process.
Councillor Paul Hewett said the wind company had “intimidated” residents and Breckland Council and shown “flagrant disregard” of the system.
He said if a local resident put up a building without permission the council would come down on him “like a tonne of bricks.”
“We should stand up to bullies and reject the application and listen to the people.”
Fellow councillor John Labouchere said: “This application stinks and has stunk for five years.”
But Michael Fanthorpe said: “The day will come when we will generate electricity in other ways than polluting the environment. Wind turbines are a thing of beauty. Swaffham loves their turbines. They are the right way forward for the country and the right way forward for Shipdham.”
Committee chairman Elizabeth Gould said: “I do not want us to be seen as the committee which is destroying the planet.”
Earl Cathcart said he could not see the point of the test mast.
Principal planning officer Greg Britton said Ecotricity had “grabbed an opportunity” to put up the mast and had applied for permission on the same day.
He said Breckland wanted a condition that any information from the mast should be made public – but Ecotricity indicated it would appeal against that as it could give confidential information to competitors.
Mr Britton said the test mast would be “a minor development.”
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