Six new wind turbines at Swaffham would create a “ticking time bomb” for RAF Marham, Breckland district councillors were warned this week.
And after listening to the concerns expressed by a local member and former RAF serviceman, fellow councillors voted unanimously to refuse the plans by Next Generation.
When plans for six new 120m-high turbines at Swaffham were first unveiled, Breckland officers recommended approval for the scheme.
But after councillors put off making a final decision on the project – between the A1065 Castle Acre Road and Sporle – to allow more investigation of issues raised by the MoD, the plans were recommended for refusal.
Defence Estates had concerns over the impact of the turbines on air traffic radar and air traffic management procedures at RAF Marham.
However, Next Generation tried to get conditions imposed to overcome concerns, but the MoD said these would be “unreasonable and as such unenforceable”.
During the development control committee meeting on Monday, David Williams, councillor for the area, said: “I’ve served in the RAF for 23 years and spent some of my time at Marham. The turbines mean aircraft would go off radar for around five miles.
“What you’re proposing is to take part of the busiest aircraft station in the UK off radar.
“It’s a ticking time bomb. Do you really want a time bomb in your hands?
“If an aircraft goes down in that area it’s not just the pilot that will get hurt. It’s a potentially disastrous situation. These turbines create a lot of power. Great. But let them do it at sea.”
There were also objections from Swaffham Town Council, Sporle and Palgrave Parish Council and Norfolk County Council. Councillors unanimously refused the plans.
Wind turbine companies have previously accused the MoD of being “the biggest single obstacle to wind power in the UK”.
SLP Energy withdrew the application to build the 125m-high turbines at Hemsby, near Yarmouth, last month because it said it needed more time to revise its scheme to overcome a swathe of objections, including from the MoD, which said they would interfere with radar at RAF Trimingham.
In November, a windfarm at Hethel was turned down by South Norfolk councillors for similar reasons.
15 January 2008
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