Green power company Enertrag UK has submitted a planning application to develop a windfarm in the south Norfolk village of Hempnall provoking fury from local objectors who have been fighting the proposals for months.
The Diss-based company is seeking consent for seven 130m high turbines on land at Bussey’s Loke that would supply the National Grid with enough renewable energy to power 10,000 homes annually.
But the project is highly controversial, with hundreds of protestors voicing their concerns at public meetings to discuss the proposals when the plans were first unveiled last year.
The wind farm has become a burning issue for villagers who even held talks at the weekend about it. And last night opponents were gearing up to go into battle in the hope that the district council will throw out the scheme.
Enertrag has been criticised by Hempnall residents for not taking part in the public debate. But company spokesman David Linley, who is managing the project, said it has consulted widely both at local level and with statutory bodies to find out the issues and concerns that will need to be addressed.
“We looked around a lot of areas to try and find suitable land. We always go for areas that are not of outstanding beauty or high landscape value so that we don’t have too many objections on the visual aspect side,” he explained.
“We also do a lot of consultation with the MoD, English Nature, etc and as far as I am aware there will be no objections from statutory consultations.”
However, South Norfolk Council looks set to receive scores of letters from worried residents who claim the rural community near Norwich is not a suitable location for a wind farm whose turbines would be higher than the city’s cathedral.
And Geoff Moulton, chairman of action group Showt (Stop Hempnall’s Onshore Wind Turbines), yesterday issued a statement on behalf of the “many hundreds of residents from villages surrounding the Hempnall area” who strongly oppose the scheme.
It said: “Enertrag’s proposed development will create a huge visual and environmental impact on Hempnall and all other surrounding villages such as Topcroft, Saxlingham, Shotesham and Woodton.
“We understand that the planning application and accompanying environmental impact statement is well over two hundred pages long. We will therefore be scrutinising every page with utmost care and will be giving our considered reaction at a later date.”
Michael Windridge, district councillor for Hempnall, also opposes the development and is helping to lead the campaign.
He said: “I am in favour of any sensible renewable energy scheme. This one is not. These gigantic turbines should be positioned well out to sea so as not to ruin south Norfolk’s precious rural landscape. The trouble with wind turbines is they can’t physically work for over seventy per cent of the time – that is when there’s either too little or too much wind.”
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon shares the concerns about sighting wind farms in the heart of Norfolk’s countryside where they would be visible for miles around. He was joined by about 400 protestors who pledged support when he officially launched Showt’s campaign.
By Celia Wigg
30 April 2008
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