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Campaigners oppose wind farm plans

A campaign group has been launched to fight plans to build a wind farm in the centre of the Lotus test track at Hethel.

It follows growing opposition to green energy company Ecotricity’s plans to building three 120m high wind turbines at the site near Wymondham.

The objectors include local landowners, farmers, companies and residents who fear their lives and properties will be blighted by the giant structures.

Action group chairman Alan Benstead said they have chosen the acronym Runga for the campaign. This stands for ‘Are you naive, gullible, apathetic’ – suggesting that renewable energy companies are targeting rural areas because residents may not be aware of the issues involved.

Many of the protest letters sent to South Norfolk Council voice fears about the noise and flicker shadow from the turbines.

Danny Pickwell, who runs a bed and breakfast business at Hethel, said his customers use accommodation for the tranquil location, quietness and unspoilt country views.

“This application will make a severe blot on the Hethel, East Carleton, Mulbarton and Bracon Ash countryside,” he said.

Poultry farmer Nigel Pead, fears the movement from the turbines may mimic predators, resulting in the birds getting stressed and laying fewer eggs, and Harry Horner, chairman of Foster Harrison Farms, believes their dairy heard may suffer.

South Norfolk MP, Richard Bacon, also backs the campaign.

Dale Vince, managing director of Ecotricity, urged people who were worried about the development to contact the company direct, or visit its EcoTech centre at Swaffham as this would allay their fears.

“It is perfectly natural for people to be concerned about something new. Don’t panic. Look at what else we have done around the country, talk to the neighbours and you won’t find anyone unhappy.

“The impact of climate change is very important and none of us can duck our responsibility in tackling it. We have to adopt renewable energy and nobody can afford to be Nimby about this.”

A spokesman for Lotus said the turbines will provide sufficient power for their entire site and avoid more than 15,000 tonnes of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide being emitted per year.

“We all have a duty to mitigate our impact on the environment where we can and Group Lotus believes that this is the biggest single action that it can take,” the spokesman said.

“In addition, there is increasing interest in Lotus’ expertise in alternative fuels and powertrain technologies from organisations such as other car companies around the world.”

By Celia Wigg

EDP 24

1 August 2007