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Mother’s plea to wind farm public inquiry

A mother asked a planning inspector to throw out applications for two wind farms as the Norfolk countryside is helping her son to adjust to life in this country.

Kathy Chalk told a public inquiry into two wind farms near Stanhoe and Syderstone, that her family had recently moved to South Creake from Hong Kong and the wildlife seen on their school runs help to distract her 10-year-old son.

On Friday, Mrs Chalk made an impassioned speech to inspector Robert Mellor, who will decide whether to overturn West Norfolk Council’s decision to refuse E.On and Renewable Energies (RES) planning permission to install turbines.

RES wants to build six 126.5m turbines on land at Jack’s Lane, Barwick, near Stanhoe, while E.On hopes to put up five 100m turbines on a site at Chiplow.

Six nearby residents spoke during the appeal, including Charles Butcher who supports wind farms and compared turbines to sculptures but said crops of sugar beet were “ugly”.

Mrs Chalk appealed to the inspector to protect the countryside for future generations and said she travelled through the affected villages en-route to school in Hunstanton.

She said: “He has cried in the morning. Going to school is so different and it has been a challenge to get him to school.

“We look for distractions. We look for hedgerows, flowers and birds. He has never seen them. If you take a child from an industrial built-up city like Hong Kong, a blade of grass or a hedge sparrow is actually exciting.”

Journalist and engineer Mr Butcher said that his Stanhoe home is nearest the Jack’s Lane site.

Mr Butcher, who told the hearing that he earns money from the wind industry, described turbines as “sculptural” and “as monumental as the Angel of the North” but “useful”.

But he went on to say in his speech that sugar beet uses “unpleasant” pesticides. He said: “I am not arguing with farmers’ rights to grow what they like. I personally find sugar beet ugly stuff for what it represents.”

Mr Butcher, who stated that the landscape has changed over the years due to human activity, said: “I think we have become very selfish, we think we have the right to complain about everything even though we will need the things we are objecting to.”

Stanhoe Parish Council chairman Terry Austin said villagers were extremely concerned about the impact of the Jack’s Lane development on the environment and on the tourism industry.

Barry Cox, who runs a bed and breakfast in South Creake, highlighted the results of three parish polls held in the villages, which had combined total of 80 per cent “no” votes.

He also criticised the survey by RES, which included views from people in Hunstanton, who were not affected.

Stanhoe resident Dr Roger Hargreaves said that Norfolk, with its wide horizons, was the wrong place to put a wind turbine.

Syderstone resident Reg Thompson gave a comprehensive presentation on the effect both wind farms would have on the village.

He stated that people using the footpaths would be able to see the sites and raised safety concerns about the turbines.

Mr Thompson also put forward worries about the effect of the wind farms on horse riders.

Both sites are close to the Bloodgate Iron Age Fort which is owned by Norfolk Archaeology Trust. Chairman Matthew Martin also put forward objections at the hearing.