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Bat survey results could stop wind farm plans, says Hempnall Parish Council chairman

Villagers have begun to prepare for a new wind turbine application in south Norfolk with the publication of a bat survey report.

A developer announced last year that it planned to submit proposals for four large turbines near Hempnall after a seven mast scheme was rejected by district councillors and by a planning inspector.

In preparation of a new application, Hempnall Parish Council has published the results of a bat survey, which has found up to nine different species in the area.

The survey results come after Oxfordshire-based firm TCI Renewables took over the site off Bussey’s Loke from Enertrag UK last year after they failed to get planning consent in 2009.

The parish council commissioned bat expert Chris Vine to carry out surveys in May and October 2010 and found a population of Barbastelle bats, which are a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species, and a roosting site for noctule bats.

The report said: “At least seven and possibly nine bat species have been identified during the surveys and found to use the site. This number of species, including roosting bats of nationally rare and most at-risk species not previously thought to be present, reflects a good diversity of bat species and indicates the importance of the Hempnall area as roosting, commuting and foraging habitat for bats.”

Geoff Moulton chairman of SHOWT (Stop Hempnall’s Onshore Wind Turbines), who is also chairman of Hempnall Parish Council, said the results of the survey were “significant”.

“This news could potentially stop any new application in its tracks, the mitigation required to protect these rare species putting a question mark over the viability of the whole site,” he said.

TCI Renewables held a public exhibition of its proposals in December, but has yet to submit a formal planning application to South Norfolk Council.