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Villagers furious at turbines plan

Villagers vented their fury at plans to develop four wind turbines near Hemsby during a heated public meeting.

Representatives from developer SLP Energy faced a grilling from 40 residents and councillors who packed into The Pavilion at Hemsby Football Club for the discussion about the giant structures, which are almost as tall as the London Eye.

A number of concerns were raised, particularly about the size of the 125m high turbines and the density of the development with one suggestion being to space the turbines out along the east coast.

Noise issues were also a concern with turbines operating throughout the day and disturbing sleep.

Last Thursday’s meeting was attended by SLP representatives Paul Smith and Sophie Nioche, the project’s manager and developer respectively, and was chaired by Hemsby Parish Council chairman Robert Reynolds, while Great Yarmouth borough councillors George Jermany and Charles Reynolds joined Yarmouth MP Tony Wright in the audience.

SLP’s Paul Smith said the pole height was determined by the fact the wind was stronger at a higher level and that spreading them out would be more complicated and trigger more hostility.

Many questions focused on the likely effectiveness of the green technology in being able to supply enough electricity to make the wind turbines a viable proposition.

The company anticipate the windfarm will be able to produce 10 megawatts of electricity- enough to power 5,500 homes, but the residents said the long distance the energy would have to travel would cancel out any energy saving and questioned whether its contribution would be worth the aggravation.

But Mr Reynolds said the developers should decide whether sufficient electricity could be generated by the windfarm as it was in their business interests to do so.

A vote taken at the meeting found 18 opposed the scheme planned for agricultural land between Hemsby and Ormesby, with only four or five being in favour. The others didn’t vote.

The rejection followed hot on the heels of Ormesby St Margaret Parish Council’s “no” vote at a meeting on Monday last week.

Jeanie Shiers, of Hall Road, Hemsby believed the government was having a u-turn and was looking more towards developing nuclear energy rather than harnessing wind power.

She said: “The only way they can make them viable is to make them that big and build them too close to properties.”

And another Hemsby resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “I think the green energy measures are worthwhile but what we have got to look at is that we have got to live with them and I think the vast majority of people at the meeting were tonight against where it is and the sheer height of it. It is just too large.”

SLP Energy submitted a planning application to the borough council in August, and the project is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment. The borough council also needs to get the opinions of a number of organisations, including Norfolk County Council, English Heritage and the Norfolk Wildlife Trust before any decision can be taken.

By Dominic Bareham

Great Yarmouth Mercury

4 October 2007