Battle lines were drawn yesterday as one of the country’s biggest energy companies launched its appeal against a decision to reject plans for a massive wind farm in a quiet corner of Essex.
Maldon District Council turned down a planning application by Npower in July last year to erect 10 turbines at Hockley Farm, close to the village of Bradwell-on-Sea.
The company appealed against the ruling and a public inquiry began yesterday at the district council’s offices in Princes Road, Maldon.
Npower’s argument is based on the growing need for greener energy as well as other environmental and feasibility issues it felt were unfairly judged in the original application.
Representatives for the council and local campaigners also made their points during yesterday’s opening session.
David Hardy, representing Npower, said there was “no reason” the new structures couldn’t co-exist with the nearby historic Saxon-era St Peter’s Chapel, which has stood for more than 1,000 years.
“All the evidence points to Bradwell being an appropriate site,” he said.
He said there was a “clear timescale problem” between the growing demand for greener energy and the number of wind farms being built and that the “game” of continually rejecting proposals for new sites had to stop.
“There is an urgent need for planning permission to be issued, he told the inquiry.
However, the calls to overturn the decision were opposed by Geoffrey Sinclair, representing local campaign group Bradwell and Tillingham Tackling Lost Environment (Battle), and Simon Randle, a barrister for Maldon District Council.
Planning inspector Phillip Major heard from Mr Sinclair that the development would “detrimentally affect” the setting of St Peter’s Chapel and other listed buildings and “impinge” on the residential and recreational lives of local and visiting people.
He said: “In Battle’s view, the adverse effects are not outweighed by the project’s benefits in terms of power generation, or justified by national or regional policy for the development of renewable energy.”
Mr Randle reinforced this view, saying the council was “very strongly against” any plans to install the ten turbines in the proposed site.
He told the inquiry: “This area is very quiet and very tranquil. We do not agree with the developers in terms of the impact that will arise as a result. Standing on the land, you get a true sense of what this area is about.
“Wind farms, when they come forward, may be applauded for their benefits – but they come forward at a cost.”
The inquiry will continue for the next two weeks and will include a visit to Southend Airport to examine the impact of the proposals on aviation and air safety.
6 June 2007
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