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Wind turbine project causes a storm

A wind turbine project that would see its profits ploughed back into the local community is blowing up a storm.

Cookpole Energy Action (CEA) – an eco-friendly group made up of villagers from Cookley and Walpole near Halesworth – came up with the idea to help reduce the carbon footprint of villagers and the surrounding area.

They want to install two medium sized wind turbines in the parish and have now short-listed three sites – one in Walpole and two in Cookley.

But some residents have become increasingly concerned about the plans, which have been made possible because of changes in Government legislation that provide greater incentives for communities to invest in renewable energy technology.

Villagers in Cookely claim they were not told the project could involve wind turbines and fear the structures will be unsustainable and an unsightly blot on the landscape.

Sarah Shephard said she and others admired the aims of the CEA and wanted to work with them to come up with a solution.

“CEA organised a survey to assess ‘green’ views in both villages last year but we don’t recall giving our views on wind turbines,” she said. “It’s not that we’re not eco-friendly or that we don’t admire CEA’s impressive aims but a significant number of villagers think the viability of wind power is questionable.”

Fellow Cookley resident Mark Stephen continued: “My concerns are that the subsidies that make wind turbines attractive will not be sustained in the longer-term and I don’t believe it’s worth spoiling an attractive area of countryside for what may be an uncertain future.”

Jane Evers added: “When the wind blows the low frequency noise from a turbine is relentless. The lives of those who are sensitive to it could be ruined.”

The CEA are hoping to link the electricity generated through the turbines to the national grid – ploughing any profits back in to community facilities.

Chairman Simon Weeks said: “We wrote to all significant landowners in the two parishes to see if there was anyone willing to come forward. Of the five who came back to us three decided to proceed. There wasn’t just a group of us sitting in a room deciding the sites – those who are involved selected themselves in.

“We have done our best to publicise the project from the word go. We had articles in the local newsletter specifically asking for volunteers to join the group. So far that has led to just one from Cookley and the rest from Walpole.

“We have also had a number of meetings over the last 14 months which were open to the public. We have had a few people drop in and listen to the proposals – none of them to my knowledge from the group in Cookley who have raised concerns.”