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Wind turbine plans turned down

Plans for a wind farm at the headquarters of car maker Lotus have been thrown out by a committee.

Green energy company Ecotricity had resubmitted proposals to build three 120m-high wind turbines at Lotus’ Hethel headquarters near Wymondham.

Despite the plans being recommended for approval by planning officers, councillors voted five to three in favour of refusing the controversial application.

South Norfolk Council received 124 letters opposing the scheme, which would have generated enough power to meet all of Lotus’s needs, with spare capacity to supply more than 1,000 homes through the national grid.

The car manufacturer also said that producing renewable power on site would also enable it to minimise its carbon dioxide emissions.

However, families in the area raised concerns about the potential visual impact across large areas of countryside, which was the reason the largely Conservative north-west planning committee gave for refusal.

Other objections had included the industrial nature of the development, potential noise, “shadow-flicker” and the effect on farm animals and wildlife.

Tim East, a member of the planning committee who supported the plans and Liberal Democrat councillor representing Costessey, said he was disappointed by the verdict.

He said: “This decision will do little to encourage the development of alternative renewable sources of energy anywhere on land in South Norfolk.

“So much for the Tories’ claim to have ‘green’ credentials. Clearly they are only paying lip service to global warming and climate change.”

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Since then the MoD has withdrawn its objection.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 opposed the scheme, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds raised concerns about the local populations of Bewick’s swans and golden plover.

Kim Briscoe

Evening News 24

11 June 2008