An energy company’s bid to site two giant wind turbines on the outskirts of Lowestoft has been strongly opposed by the family which owns an historic 6,700-acre country estate nearby.
Councillors will tomorroe (Wednesday) be asked to rule on an controversial planning application from SLP Energy to build two 80m turbines near the A12 at Kessingland.
The structures, about the same size as the famous Gulliver turbine in Lowestoft, would provide enough energy to power nearly 4,000 homes, but the owners of the historic Benacre estate say they will be an eyesore and have a negative impact on neighbouring land designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Unusually, planning officers at Waveney District Council have not recommended what members of the development control committee should decide.
Mike Horton, agent to the Benacre estate, said: “The estate is concerned that the development will be of considerable detriment to the AONB, which is only a few hundred yards away. The estate is not against renewable energy or wind turbines as such; it is just a matter of this location. We hope very much that the objections we have raised will be taken on board and the matter will be refused.”
The turbines, which SLP has estimated could provide power to about 7.75pc of Waveney’s households, would be sited at the Africa Alive wildlife park and at a site further to the west and adjacent to the A12.
The Benacre estate, owned by Sir Timothy and Lady Gooch, boasts a historic hall, three reservoirs, thousands of acres of farmland, a nature reserve and 15 listed buildings.
A report to members of the development control committee says: “The estate argues adverse impact on all of these features, together with impact on a new permissive footpath across the parkland to Benacre Church.”
The estate has employed the services of expert consultants The Landscape Partnership (TLP) to fight its corner and the report added: “In TLP’s assessment, the proposed turbines would contrast with the character of the AONB and the sense of tranquillity and timelessness that is typical of the local area.”
The report goes on to reveal that SLP Energy’s consultant, SLR Consulting, has issued a strong rebuttal of all of the objector’s criticisms.
It says: “SLR asserts that unlike the objectors who have misrepresented information and made unfounded assumptions, their assessment is independent and objective.”
As well as being given the options of approving or refusing the application, councillors have also been told they could defer their decision until a new Landscape Character Assessment has been prepared in early 2008.
The development control committee will meet from 6pm tonight at Lowestoft Town Hall.
By Alasdair McGregor
16 October 2007
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