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Controversial plans for wind turbines in Swaffham and Sporle are being recommended for approval despite strong objections from the Ministry of Defence.
Breckland planning officers have backed Next Generation’s application to build six turbines on land off Sporle Road, even though the MoD has argued the development could cause a national security risk.
The MoD fears the turbines would affect the air defence radar at Trimingham, and the air traffic control radars at RAF Marham and RAF Lakenheath.
The planners’ support comes just days after the MoD was branded the “biggest single obstacle to wind power in the UK,” by Dale Vince, managing director of Ecotricity, which is linked to Next Generation.
In a report to Breckland’s development control committee, a senior officer has highlighted that topography, buildings and trees could mitigate the effect of wind turbines on radar and so it does not necessarily follow that the turbines would have a negative effect.
The document also states that planners could not give substantial weight to the MoD’s objections because Defence Estates had not sent in a detailed account to prove concerns.
“Given the acknowledged need to secure suitable sites for renewable energy sources and in the light of the lack of substantive objection from Defence Estates relating to the impact of the proposal upon air traffic control and air defence radar, the application is recommended for approval,” the officer wrote.
The six 78m high turbines would be put on agricultural land that is between the A1065 Castle Acre Road and Sporle Road, with five turbines in Swaffham and one in Sporle.
“There is no doubt that if this proposal is permitted it would bring with it significant environmental benefits,” the officer also wrote in the Breckland report.
“Clean electricity from a renewable source would be provided for up to 9,500 homes.”
Swaffham Town Council and Sporle and Palgrave Parish Council have both objected to the plans because of noise issues and other problems. English Heritage has said the development would have a negative effect on the landscape and Castle Acre Castle and Priory, and Norfolk County Council has raised a strategic objection because of the project’s potential impact on the landscape.
The Highways Agency, Environment Agency and Norfolk County Council in its highway authority role, have no objections.
A month ago MoD objections scuppered three proposed turbines at Hethel, near Wymondham, because of fears about national security.
The application for the six turbines is due to be discussed at Breckland’s development control committee on Monday, December 17.
By Emma Knights
10 December 2007
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