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Turbines issue 'not black and white'

Anti-windfarm campaigners last night claimed the man in charge of Norfolk’s environment policies was “short-sighted” after he said it should be made easier to build controversial turbines.

Ian Monson, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for the environment, said Norfolk should rewrite the rules to make it easier for turbines to be built to help reduce carbon emissions.

He spoke out against his authority’s stance after his council colleagues opposed plans for six 120m tall wind turbines at the Ecotech Centre at Swaffham on visual grounds during a consultation by Breckland council.

The councillor, who represents the county on the Ecotech board, said he would not take part in the vote after declaring his interest.

But activists said that the wind farm issue was not as black and white as people were led to believe and build-ing more turbines would ruin Norfolk.

Martin Hickey, chairman of Sporle Parish Council which opposed the Swaffham plans, said: “People need to know the facts. We are not nimbies, that’s an insult. We’ve done a lot of research into the whole issue and Norfolk does not need that many.

“Turbines will make little difference, yet they will industrialise the countryside forever.”

Brian Kidd, chairman of the Campaign Against Turbines at Shipdham and Scarning, said while the group supported the concept of renewable energy, on-shore turbines should only be sensitively sited and the last thing needed was a loosening of the rules.

“We are most strongly opposed to some of the proposals for on-shore wind turbines which clearly will desecrate the beautiful Norfolk countryside and undoubtedly blight the lives of those who would have the misfortune to live close to these enormous structures – up to 120m in some cases, and some as close as

420m to private properties.

“It is for these, and other reasons, that we need a robust planning system to critically and dispassionately examine all wind turbine proposals.”

Mr Monson said: “I believe that with the realities of climate change around us we must urgently pursue all economically viable means at our disposal to generate energy from non fossil fuel sources.

“For this reason I feel that a higher priority should be given to wind energy and where sites are suitable planning policy should reflect this.

“I am convinced Norfolk people appreciate the economic and environmental benefits of wind energy and would support its growth.”

Norfolk has five onshore wind farms: at Somerton and Blood Hill, near Yarmouth; two at Swaffham and one at North Pickenham. Planning applica-tions for two more, at Swaffham and Shipdham, have been submitted.

County councillors were being asked to give their views on the Swaffham proposal by Ecotricity, as part of a Breckland District Council consultation.

By Lorna Marsh


3 May 2007