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Turbine plan 'will wreck airship site'

One of the most significant sites in the history of British aviation is in imminent danger of destruction, a leading local historian has warned.

A proposal by a developer SLP Energy to place seven 125m-high (410ft) wind turbines on the site of the former RAF Pulham – home to the famous “Pulham Pigs” – is “grossly irresponsible”, says historian and archaeologist Hadrian Jeffs.

“It is quite wrong that such an important historical location, both for East Anglia and for the nation, should be sacrificed in this way,” he said.

Pulham was one of the first British airship stations, serving as an operational base during the First World War, before becoming the Air Ministry’s chief experimental airship facility, with much of the development work for the ill-fated R-101 being undertaken there.

The station figured in several pioneering flights, notably when the R-34 returned there from the first double crossing of the Atlantic by air in July 1919, and again in May 1926.

It went on to play a key role in the development of electronic navigation aids, as one of the baseline stations for the Marconi-Adcock Night Effect radio direction-finding system, which was employed by Imperial Airways on their services to the continent.

But it was as home to the Pulham Pigs, as locals nicknamed the airships, that the station’s fame is based.

“Pulham has as important a place in our nation’s history as a Battle of Britain fighter station, or any medieval castle, quite apart from the inestimable loss to British military and aviation archaeology. It would be sacrilege to destroy the last relic of a crucial, but almost forgotten, campaign,” added Mr Jeffs, who lives at Long Stratton.

An action group has been formed to fight the controversial development which opponents claim would create a 2km blight zone affecting residents in Pulham St Mary, Pulham Market, Dickleburgh and Rushall.

SLP is currently seeking consent for a wind-measuring mast at the site as the first step in progressing the scheme.

Diss Mercury

22 August 2007