Posters have been drawn and petitions signed as residents in a corner of north Norfolk gear up for a planning battle which has split the community.
A controversial application to build a solitary wind turbine on farmland in Bodham has distinctly divided locals in and around the village.
Those against say the “monstrosity” will blight the landscape, pave the way for more like it and devalue properties. Residents in favour, however think the 84 metre high turbine is an opportunity for the area to take an environmental step forward and help secure future energy supplies.
The row has now escalated to such a scale that both parties have stepped up their campaigns to include online petitions, websites, pages on social media sites and bumper stickers to push their side of the argument.
Ahead of a special Bodham parish council meeting tonight to discuss the turbine, the leader of the against campaign defended the objections his party had made after they were rubbished by supporters.
David Ramsbotham, chairman of Plumstead Parish Council, said: “One of the things they don’t like us saying is possible ill health (caused by turbines) but it’s well documented that people have suffered. I think the for campaign are not really being realistic in overall terms.
“They have got this ideal that it will be a lovely world if we could have all green energy but it won’t actually work like that, especially with turbines. You’re better off going for solar or tidal.”
“A lot of people are saying why do we really need one on land when we have already got 88 out at sea. A lot of people made that comment because they consider one turbine will be an eyesore,” he added.
But supporters believe the turbine is a “golden opportunity” for Bodham. Callum Ringer has spearheaded the campaign in support of it and thinks the objectors’ argument boiled down to one of aesthetics, as the turbine is seen as not “pretty enough”.
He said: “I’ve lived in Bodham pretty much all my life and I’m a young person as well. We’re going to be here in 50 – 60 years and we’re going to be the ones suffering when fossil fuels run out.
“We know one turbine won’t save the planet but it’s an important small step. I have always been aware of the countryside and how to help it and preserve it (but) I don’t think a wind turbine is going to damage it in any way.”
Applicant Genatec say if built the turbine would have the capacity, when the wind is blowing, to create enough electricity to power 600-700 homes and its supplies will be kept local as it will feed into West Beckham’s substation.
David Mack, director at the family-run firm, did not expect the turbine to have caused the stir it had but hoped both camps could get through tonight’s meeting with “mutual respect”.
He said: “It will be a significant asset for the community. It will increase our sustainability; we don’t know what the future holds in terms of electricity production so we have got to start thinking about the future.
“I’m not saying we need to smother Norfolk (with turbines) but we do need to do our bit. Give it a chance.”
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