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'Government must decide wind farm plan'

An MP has called for the Government to hold a public enquiry into plans for a wind farm of “monster turbines” at a site he claims is unsuitable.

Douglas Carswell, MP for Harwich and Clacton, claims plans by energy giant Npower to build a five turbine farm, near St Osyth, should be examined by a planning inspector and has written to Hazel Blears, the minister for communities and local government, to voice his concerns.

However, Npower Renewables defended the plans for its Earls Hall farm site, saying it would provide “clean and environmentally-friendly” power for up to 6,000 homes a year.

The application is currently before Tendring District Council.

Mr Carswell, who has recently met campaigners against it, said yesterday: “There is a massive off-shore wind farm being built nearby and that is the place to put these things.

“A lot of politicians feel they are under pressure to say they are in favour of renewable energy for environmental reasons, but I think this development would really undermine the local environment.”

In his letter, Mr Carswell claimed one of the key issues with the proposal was its location – 1km away from the village of West Clacton, a densely populated part of his constituency.

Mr Carswell claimed there would be noise generated by the wind farm and voiced fears about damage to the local landscape and wildlife.

He said: “I think the proposal will inhibit local agricultural development and will have a detrimental effect on the visual impact of the historical and rural character of the landscape.”

He also argued the Gunfleet Sands off-shore wind farm, set to begin operating in 2009, had a capacity 15 times that of the site proposed at Earls Hall farm.

Cath Stevenson, Npower Renewables’ development manager, said the proposed wind farm could provide enough clean and environmentally-friendly electricity for the annual average needs of between 5,500 and 6,000 homes each year – enough to power about 20% of the homes in Clacton.

She said: “Everyone is aware of the growing body of evidence on climate change and that we need to take action – Tendring District Council have a perfect opportunity to take that action when they make a decision about the Earls Hall Wind Farm planning application.

“Calling for a public inquiry at this stage would not only take the decision out of the hands of local people, but is also premature because the council hasn’t yet had enough time to consider all the information and come to a decision.”

eadt.co.uk

21 August 2007