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Energy form appeal over turbine delay

A leading energy company is set to appeal against a council’s failure to rule on an application to site two giant wind turbines on the outskirts of Lowestoft.

SLP Energy submitted plans for the 125m turbines at Kessingland in January, but Waveney District Council’s development control committee has still been unable to reach a decision.

At a meeting this week, councillors voted to defer the matter, saying they wanted to await the publication of a new landscape study early next year. They also voted to go on a second site visit to the proposed locations.

Applicants can launch a challenge, known as a non-determination appeal, if they believe the council has taken too long to come to a decision and documents presented to the committee stated that SLP had indicated its intention to do this “without delay”. Appeals are made to the secretary of state through the Planning Inspectorate.

Committee members heard presentations from SLP and a representative of objectors, including the historic Benacre estate, who claim the turbines will become a blot on the landscape.

As well as indicating they wanted to wait for the results of a Landscape Character Assessment, commissioned jointly with Great Yarmouth Borough Council, committee members said they were also concerned about the accuracy of photographic montages presented by the applicants and objectors. Images showing how the turbines would fit into the surrounding environment were presented, but showed noticeably different results, despite being taken from the same vantage points.

Councillor Jonathan Winterton said: “I’m all for renewable energy and I think wind turbines and wind farms have a part to play in that. However, I think it is important that we have accurate images in front of us that we can rely upon before we make a judgement.”

SLP wants to build the turbines, which would provide enough energy to power more than 3,000 homes, at the Africa Alive wildlife park and at a site further to the west and adjacent to the A12.

The family, who own the 6,700-acre Benacre country estate have strongly opposed the plans, saying the turbines would be located close to land designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

They were represented at Wednesday night’s meeting by landscape architect Christopher Stratton, of The Landscape Partnership based in Woodbridge.

He said: “These proposals will have a profoundly negative impact on an area that has much value nationally. They need to focus their attention on finding better sites within Waveney.”

Paul Smith, representing SLP, stressed the proposed site was outside the AONB and told how the renewable energy industry had been identified as a key component of Lowestoft’s economic revival. He added that five alternative sites had been considered but were deemed unsuitable.

The Lowestoft Journal

19 October 2007