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Objector applies to turn turbine’s home into a village green

A resident of a north Suffolk village opposed to the siting of a wind turbine near his house has taken steps to get the development removed.

Neil Weston has applied to Suffolk County Council to change the playing field which hosts Palgrave Community Centre’s controversial wind turbine into a village green.

Village green status would prevent developments from being built on the field, which is off Upper Rose Lane.

That is relevant in this case, as the turbine has not been built to the specifications laid out in the planning application granted permission by Mid Suffolk District Council last year; an error the centre’s committee is seeking to address.

John Kilgannon, of the committee, said the turbine is vital because it contributes thousands of pounds towards the running of the centre, which costs the committee about £20,000 a year to keep open.

Mr Weston said: “The land ticks all the village green boxes, but it’s early days, and we wait for confirmation of any timetable from the county council.

“The turbine has caused a huge division in Palgrave: we just want our peaceful village back.”

If the field does become a village green, the ownership and management of it by the volunteer-run community centre committee – who bid for the wind turbine – would not change.

But Mr Kilgallon told the Diss Express he would probably resign if the field becomes a green.

He said: “Who pays for field maintenance if it becomes a green and the turbine goes?

“Getting rid of the turbine would mean getting rid of the things villagers love doing too.”

Mr Kilgannon added that until the committee gets the paperwork from the council, it is unsure what it will do.

The 2006 Commons Act states land designated in law as a village green cannot be developed from the date of the conversion application – in this case, last week.

Mr Weston believes if his application gets the green light, the current “unlawful” turbine would have to be removed, and there would no longer be the relevant permission to replace it.

The 2006 act defines a village green as any land on which, for 20 years, a significant number of inhabitants of any area has indulged in lawful sports or pastimes, as of right.

Mr Weston said the playing field was given to Palgrave by two farmers about 30 years ago, and since then, has been used for various activities, such as fetes and firework nights, and also for sports and dog walks.

He added that he has 30 residents who have used the field as a village green for more than 20 years ready to back up his bid. A county council spokesman said a decision is likely to be a few months away, though.

One of the main issues between the committee and near-neighbours has been noise. Mr Kilgannon said this was addressed in April by replacing the seven-month-old turbine with a new model. But Mr Weston, who lives 200 metres from the turbine, said there have been 15 or so complaints about noise since then.

He added: “Myself and others objecting to the turbine aren’t against the centre having one – but why have it near so many houses when there is so much empty space in Suffolk?”