National security could be compromised by more wind turbines in the Swaffham area, but councillors have been recommended to grant permission.
The Ministry of Defence warns the six new giant turbines would have “an unacceptable impact upon the air traffic control radar at RAF Marham and Lakenheath and also against the air defence radar at Trimingham”.
But Breckland councillors could give the go-ahead on Monday for the turbines to be built on an open farmland site between the A1065 Castleacre Road and Sporle Road in Swaffham and Sporle.
Planning officers are recommending approval for Next Generation’s plan to build six turbines of similar size to the Swaffham II turbine despite the MoD warnings.
A report from planning officers points out that features on the landscape, buildings and even trees can mitigate the effect of wind turbines on radar, so it does not necessarily follow that turbines would have a negative effect.
And it says planners cannot give strong weight to the MoD’s objection because Defence Estates has not supplied a more detailed response setting out its exact concerns.
“Given the acknowledged need to secure suitable sites for renewable energy sources and in the light of the lack of a 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 report concludes.
The turbine towers would be 256ft high and have blade diameters of 269ft. They would be of a direct drive type, which requires no gearbox, and between them would produce 12 megawatts of electricity – enough power for up to 9,500 homes.
Five of the turbines fall within Swaffham and the other in Sporle and the town and parish councils have objected to the plan because of noise, flicker and other issues, including the potential for further similar applications in the area.
Norfolk County Council has raised a strategic objection claiming the proposal would have a significant impact on the landscape.
But the report says the cumulative impact of the proposed six turbines with the existing two at Swaffham and, to a lesser degree, the eight at North Pickenham, “will not be significantly detrimental to the locality”.
And it points out: “There is no doubt that if this proposal is permitted it would bring with it significant environmental benefits.”
Next Generation has estimated the six turbines would save the emission of up to 31,474 tonnes of carbon dioxide and meet seven per cent of the capacity needed in Norfolk by 2010.
14 December 2007
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