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MP seeks wind power debate

Mid Norfolk MP Keith Simpson is hoping to reignite a debate over wind power in parliament today as energy giant Enertrag makes yet another bid to build turbines in the county.

The firm’s six-turbine proposal at Guestwick, between Aylsham and Fakenham, has been through two planning inquiries and the high court since 2004.

Now it is waiting for a court date for a judicial review of the last planning inquiry, which found against the scheme earlier this year.

Mr Simpson said that while he was not against windfarms in general, he feared that incentives and government targets meant that, despite local opposition, energy firms would get their way in what he described as a “Tesco syndrome” – whereby large companies persevere until they get what they want due to attractive subsidies in the long term.

“These companies will just keep coming back, appealing and appealing in the hope local people will give up or run out of money or finally planning inspectors will find in their favour,” he said.

“The government has self-imposed targets on how much renewable energy they want by certain dates and they have created incentives for wind companies to come forward and build as many windfarms as possible.

“The subsidy system needs to be looked at.”

David Linley, project manager for Enertrag, said the firm would ask for another planning inquiry if it won the judicial review, or resubmit the scheme if it did not.

“We are going to go ahead. At the end of the day, logic has got to rule. We think it is a good site.”

He said the government had committed itself to EU renewable energy targets but that at the rate it was going, UK taxpayers would be footing the bill of a large fine for the country not meeting those targets.

But the subsidy system was changing.

“I think things are going to change dramatically over the next few years,” he said. “Offshore wind subsidies are going to be greater than onshore.”

Elaine Maslin

Eastern Daily Press

22 April 2008