Plans to develop a windfarm at the Lotus test track have been recommended for approval despite strong opposition from local people.
Green energy company Ecotricity has resubmitted proposals to build three 120m-high wind turbines at the sports car-makers’ Hethel headquarters near Wymondham, and these will be considered at a South Norfolk Council planning meeting next week.
The council has received 124 letters opposing the scheme, which would generate enough power to meet all of Lotus’s needs, with spare capacity to supply more than 1,000 homes through the national grid.
Producing renewable power on site would also enable Lotus to minimise its carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming, according to the scheme’s supporters.
But concerns have been raised about its potential visual impact across large areas of countryside, the industrial nature of the development, potential noise, “shadow-flicker” and the effect on farm animals and wildlife.
Ecotricity has submitted an environmental statement addressing many of the issues – which have been backed by district council planning officers, who, in a report to go before the planning committee, state: “The council is urged to look positively at renewable energy schemes.
“The environmental assessment has been considered by the appropriate technical consultees and has been found to be satisfactory.”
It is the second time Ecotricity has submitted plans for the site. Its previous proposal, which critics claim is identical, was thrown out by councillors last November.
A key factor of that decision was that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had opposed the development on the grounds that the turbines would pose a threat to national security.
Since then the MoD has withdrawn its objection.
Both Bracon Ash and Hethel and East Carleton and Ketteringham parish councils have opposed the scheme, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has raised concerns about the local populations of Bewick’s swans and golden plover. There have been 10 letters in support of the scheme.
Alan Benstead, chairman of Runga, the campaign group fighting the development, said he was still hopeful that the plans would be scuppered. He said: “It is an identical application, and common sense says that the committee ought to come to the same conclusion as last time.”
The proposals will be considered by the district council’s north-west area planning committee on Wednesday at the council’s offices in Long Stratton.
An Ecotricity spokeswoman said the company was pleased with the planning officers’ recommendation and it was looking forward to a positive outcome.
5 June 2008
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