A controversial wind farm on the Essex coast is set to be given the go-ahead despite vociferous objections from people living in the surrounding area.
Npower Renewables has applied to build five 410-feet turbines and a substation on rural land at Earls Hall Farm near Clacton-on-Sea.
The energy giant’s proposal will provide power for between 5,000 and 6,000 homes but there have been strong objections and a protest group – South Tendring Acting to Protect Our Local Environment (STAPLE) – has been set up fight it.
Tendring District Council’s officers have recommended that the wind farm be approved and the authority will meet tomorrow night to decide its fate.
The site is in open countryside next to the villages of St Osyth and Little Clacton and near to the north west of Clacton.
A council report into the application reveals the wind farm would have “no adverse significant environmental effects” which could justify refusal of the application.
Npower hopes to get planning permission for up to 25 years which would cover the lifespan of the wind turbines.
Work is already underway on a major offshore wind farm at nearby Gunfleet Sands, which will supply power to about 120,000 homes, but the 46-page report states that the output from the “small-scale” project is still relevant.
Council officers say the project should be given permission unless there is evidence to show it will harm the local environment through issues including noise and visual impact. They conclude –
n Wildlife – There have been a large number of objections about possible damage to wildlife in the surrounding area. However the only potential problem identified could be to bats.
n Visual impact – The proposed wind farms would appear as very large structures, “visually dominant” in their immediate setting. There would be “significant impacts” on the landscape in the three-mile area surrounding the turbines, but not from further away.
n Noise – Modern turbines are designed to emit as little noise as possible, but all of them contribute “blade swish”, which could be considered harmful to those living locally.
The council’s development control committee meets tomorrow at the Princes Theatre, Town Hall, Clacton at 7pm to vote on the application.
18 June 2008
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