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Marham: Airbase fears blow up over wind turbines

RAF Marham will close if plans for a multi-million pound wind farm close to two West Norfolk villages are given the go-ahead, residents fighting the project have claimed.

Base commanders have not commented on the suggestion made at a public meeting about the proposed Ongarhill wind farm between Terrington St Clement and Clenchwarton.

However, it is known defence officials have registered objections to the plans because of concerns over low flying training and the potential impact on radar installations up to 60 miles from the site.

As previously reported, Falck Renewables and Coriolis Energy are seeking permission to build 11 turbines, at a cost of more than £20 million, on land east of Rhoon Road, Terrington St Clement, north-east of Terrington St Clement and north-west of Clenchwarton.

But residents attending a meeting at the Clenchwarton Memorial Hall on Tuesday night were told that the Ministry of Defence were opposed to the plans.

And Gerry Rider, one of the organisers of the event, said: “If this wind farm goes ahead, Marham will close. It’s as simple as that.

“With the MOD against it, we have a big case.”

A base spokesman declined to comment when approached by the Lynn News yesterday.

But, in a letter to West Norfolk Council planners, Claire Duddy, an assistant safeguarding officer for the MoD, said the development would cause unacceptable interference to radar systems at six RAF bases, including Marham.

She said other sites affected would include Lakenheath in Suffolk, Cottesmore in Rutland and the Lincolnshire bases of Cranwell, Coningsby and Waddington, which is around 58 miles away from the site by road.

The letter also states that the site lies within an area used for low flying training, sometimes just 30 metres above the ground, adding: “The proliferation of obstacles in this area is not only a safety hazard, but also severely impacts on its utilisation for essential low flying training.”

But the developers said that, while talks are continuing, they expected the development would be “no significant impact” on defence interests.

They pointed out there are already two wind farms sited much closer to Marham, which the base’s radar handles without the need for mitigation equipment to be used.

Their environmental statement to the council said the site was not on any of the designated approaches or departure routes from the station.

And they added the area highlighted by the MoD as one used for training was not a low-flying area, but one available to aircraft meeting guidelines laid down by RAF authorities.

Residents also voiced concerns about the impact of people’s health, the amount of traffic the plans would generate and the potential impact on wildlife.

The meeting was told that bodies including the RSPB, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and Norfolk Archaeology were also opposed to the scheme, which may go before West Norfolk councillors later this month.