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Residents give views on wind farm plans at Turncole Farm

Protesters in Southminster were out in force at the first public consultation for a new wind farm.

Renewable energy company RES held the exhibition at Southminster Memorial Hall to demonstrate what the project would deliver before plans are submitted later this year.

The consultation was repeated at Burnham Carnival Hall the following day as the company prepares to put in a planning application to the district council.

The wind farm is proposed for Turncole Farm, between Southminster and Burnham-on-Crouch, and would include seven 400-foot high turbines.

The site has already been subject to two years of survey work and, if approved, construction could begin in three to five years, over a period of up to 12 months.

“The consultation is our chance to demonstrate what the project will deliver – clean, green energy for the future,” said RES project manager Jon Knight.

“We wanted the consultation to be a two-way street – informing the public and getting feedback – which is key to understanding local views and opinions.”

He said the site was selected based on criteria including wind speed, technology, ecology, space and distance from residents, with the reduction of emissions by 2020 a key factor.

Mr Knight said that 60 people visited the Southminster exhibition, 80 at Burnham and “more were in favour than against”.

The proposals met a less than warm response from members of the 700-strong Southminster Inhabitants Environmental Group Enterprise (SIEGE) at Southminster.

Mr Knight said that the farm would have an output of 12.6MW, and would be working at 32 per cent efficiency or enough to power 7,600 homes; the equivalent of Burnham, Southminster, Tillingham and Althorne.

Although he said it had been useful, Mr Knight, speaking on the first day of consultation, said public response would have little impact. “We haven’t had any feedback we’re likely to take into consideration,” he said.

He played down the level of anxiety in the community.

“We’ve had quite a balanced range of opinions, but a lot of people did have concerns.

“The consultation has been helpful to understanding people’s fears, many of which are a result of misunderstandings and misinformation we can address.”

Mr Knight said one concern was over proposed access routes during construction, which could have taken lorries through Southminster. However, he said it had been rejected in favour of a route through Althorne.

Admitting that visibility was a major issue, he said the 18.6-mile sight radius would only apply on a clear day with no obstruction.