A public exhibition promoting the benefits of having a full-scale windfarm in a south Norfolk village descended into public theatre yesterday after it was ambushed by a vocal opposition group.
Diss-based developers Enertrag UK wants to build the seven-turbine 130ft windfarm in nearby Hempnall but has run into considerable opposition in the village.
Campaign group Showt has signed up a third of the people in Hempnall – with the road to the village hall where the exhibition was held yesterday littered with posters displaying their anti windfarm message.
And district councillor Michael Windridge recently wrote to every resident of the village asking whether they supported Enertrag’s proposals, with 477, or 83pc of the respondents, writing back to say they did not.
At the exhibition yesterday Mr Windridge presented Enertrag manager of projects David Linley with that survey which he said provided “incontrovertible evidence” that villagers were opposed to the scheme.
And Geoff Moulton, chairman of Showt, brought both his group’s membership list and a scale model as further evidence that the windfarm was not wanted in Hempnall.
Soon the exhibition had become a public debate between Mr Windridge, Mr Moulton and Mr Linley, with most people ignoring the displays in favour of the public theatre in front of them.
Speaking to the EDP, Mr Windridge said: “On the principle that seeing is believing I brought the 574 Hempnall declarations to show Mr Lindley. Enertrag and the local landowners have to acknowledge that incontrovertible evidence that this is village opposition on a substantial scale.”
Mr Moulton said: “We hope that Enertrag will believe us now that the company can see the evidence piled up before its very own eyes. I am urging Mr Linley and local landowners to reconsider their proposal on such an inappropriate site.”
But Mr Linley said: “This has been very theatrical but we’re still determined to press ahead. These exhibitions are useful because we can put people’s minds at rest over issues to do with noise, flicker, ecological damage, everything other than visual intrusion.
“It is true that some people have made their mind up before they came in but I think there is a large silent contingent who support what we want to do but do not want to raise attention to themselves by being open about it.”
The public consultation will continue with two further exhibitions over the coming months. Enertrag will then draw up a planning application which will be submitted in the autumn, with a final decision expected early next year.
By Tom Smithard
13 April 2007