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Threat to £4m windfarm

A bid to create a £4m windfarm on the outskirts of Lowestoft was under threat last night after conservation bosses claimed the giant turbines could create a blot on the landscape.

Members of Waveney District Council’s development control committee are due to consider the application on Wednesday, but have been asked to defer their decision while a special report into the potential impact of the turbines, planned for Kessingland, is prepared.

Planning chiefs fear the council could leave itself open to an expensive legal challenge from opponents of the scheme if it decides on the application before a Landscape Character Assessment (LCA) is prepared.

A report to the committee admits the proposals for two turbines have been under consideration for several months and that the applicant, Lowestoft-based SLP Energy, is pressing for a decision.

At 80m tall, the turbines would be about the same size as the Gulliver turbine in Lowestoft and would be put at the Africa Alive wildlife park and at a site further to the west and adjacent to the A12.

The sites fall within land designated as an Area of Natural Beauty (AONB), which is administered by the Suffolk Coast and Heaths unit.

In a statement to councillors, a spokesman for the unit says: “I do think it is important for Waveney to have as much information as possible to make the decision about the Kessingland wind turbines.

“A central part of that is whether there are better locations within the district where landscape sensitivities are not so great. Certainly I will be pressing to say that this is not a good location and better locations exist where turbines can be more easily accommodate within the landscape. As these are the first on-shore wind turbines by, or in, the AONB, the district will be setting a precedent for how to deal with such applications…”

SLP first submitted a planning application last December, following two years of studies, surveys and consultation exercises. They say the turbines would power 3,745 homes – about 7.75pc of Waveney’s households.

However, agents acting for the neighbouring Benacre estate, say a decision before the publication of an LCA report, which could take up to four months, would be premature and would lead to them seeking a judicial review.

In the report to the development control committee, the council’s planning department says: “Officers are persuaded by these arguments. A successful judicial review of a premature decision could render the council liable for substantial costs.”

SLP spokesman Russell Harper said: “We are aware of the meeting next Wednesday, and we will await the outcome.”

The development control committee will meet at Lowestoft Town Hall from 6pm on Wednesday.

By Alasdair McGregor


14 September 2007