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Residents to fight 'wind tunnel' plan

Residents of Swaffham and the surrounding villages have banded together to stop a 15-mile swathe of Norfolk being turned into a “wind tunnel” of turbines.

The Stop Turbines Action Group (Stag) is battling Ecotricity’s plans to build six turbines near the A47 between Swaffham and Sporle.

But the meeting heard it could just be the tip of the iceberg as Breckland Council was being lobbied by Spanish-based energy giant Iberdrola to put turbines in a corridor running from North Pickenham to Fakenham.

The group agreed to put pressure on Breckland to draft new policies to make it harder for green energy companies to ignore the wishes of communities, who feel they are ruining the rural landscape.

There are already 10 turbines near Swaffham, with a further two planned at North Pickenham by poultry giant Bernard Matthews.

Last month the battle against windfarms in Norfolk took a tragic turn when farmer Richard Herbert, who had been fighting plans for 26 turbines at Marshland St James, near King’s Lynn, was found dead in a water-filled ditch.

Group spokesman Steve Hudson said: “Iberdrola, one of the largest renewable energy companies worldwide, is one of three companies to submit a document to Breckland Council that could overshadow all previous applications covering areas up as far as Castle Acre.

“It is therefore vital this current application fails to become the catalyst. That would have devastating cumulative repercussions that would change the face of Swaffham and its surrounding villages forever.

“Stag will try to persuade the local authority to maintain a sensible wind energy policy and save our countryside from the ruin of power-generating companies and the greedy landowners who are taking advantage of planning weaknesses so they can pocket the profits at the expense of our landscape.”

Dave Cunnington, who lives close to one of Swaffham’s existing turbines at Tumbler Hill, told the meeting that he and his neighbours were affected by the constant thump of their blades.

Breckland Council is expected to discuss the application on July 2 at its offices in Dereham.

By Nick Heath

EDP 24

4 June 2007