Plans for a £19m onshore windfarm at Stanhoe, which divided opinion in the area, have been refused by West Norfolk Council.
Parish councils surrounding the area were all against the proposed windfarm on a 494-acre site at Barwick Hall Farm, and they were joined by 667 letters of objection and a petition containing 123 signatures.
But the borough council also received 732 letters of support for the application by Renewable Energy Systems (RES) UK and Ireland, one of the world’s leading renewable energy developers, to build six, three-bladed turbines at the location.
On Monday, members of the council’s development control board went along with a recommendation for refusal after considering a report on the issue drawn up by officers.
The company said each of the turbines would be 262ft to the hub, with a maximum height to blade tip of 415ft. The windfarm would be capable of producing 13.8 megawatts – enough energy to power 8,000 homes.
The report said: “This is a relatively small project in relation to offshore schemes in the area, such as Docking Shoal, which may have up to 166 turbines and an installed capacity of 500 megawatts.
“While the scheme’s contribution to mitigating climate change is recognised, in this case it is not considered sufficient to justify the harm caused to the setting of the designated heritage assets of Barmer Church, Bloodgate Hill fort and Houghton Hall Park.
“While onshore windfarm developments can have substantial benefits to society and wider environmental aspirations, the adverse effects locally in terms of impact on heritage assets, ecology and significance of the impact on the local landscape renders this development unacceptable.”
In its objection, English Heritage expressed concern about the impact of the windfarm on the church, a Grade I listed building; the fort, a scheduled ancient monument; and the park, a Grade I listed park/garden.
RES UK and Ireland said its proposal would see “a significant capital investment in the area” by the company, and up to 40 short-term jobs, of which about 80 per cent would be for local workers, created during the year-long construction phase.
Objections were received from Stanhoe, Bircham, North Creake, South Creake, Syderstone, Thursford and West Rudham parish councils, mainly criticising the proposal as “industrialisation of the rural landscape” and visually intrusive in an area of important landscape quality.
The RSPB also objected, saying the development posed “an unacceptable risk to pink-footed geese” which use this site when visiting the North Norfolk coast and The Wash.
Crops that encourage these birds to forage inland would still be grown in the area, so it would be extremely difficult to prevent them flying through or near to the windfarm and colliding with the turbine blades, it said.
In recommending refusal, the report said: “This landscape is characterised by an open skyline, a strong sense of peace and tranquillity, as well as of rural isolation.
“The introduction of the turbines as dominant, man-made features, and in particular the movement associated with the blades, will disrupt this character to the detriment of those living in the locality and using the various footpaths and roads from which the turbines will be visible.”
It said the application, when taken with other windfarms proposed in the area, was considered to have a “significantly harmful cumulative impact” on the local landscape and its visual appearance.
Welcoming the refusal, Jonathan Powell, chairman of Creakes Action for Protecting the Environment, said: “It’s a step in the right direction, but I believe RES are likely to appeal and there are a series of events that will have to take place before the matter is finally resolved.”
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