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Ongarhill wind farm ‘will put airman at risk’

Plans for a multi-million pound wind farm close to two villages would put military personnel at up to four RAF bases, including Marham, at risk.

The claim was made in a letter from a Government minister to an MP, who has now called for the Ongarhill scheme close to Clenchwarton and Terrington St Clement to be scrapped.

But developers say they see no reason why the plan cannot proceed and claim defence officials have been “very hard to engage with” over the plan.

As previously reported, Coriolis Energy and Falck Renewables want to build 11 turbines, each up to 127 metres high, on land close to Rhoon Road, Terrington St Clement in a development that could cost up to £20 million.

But in a letter to North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham which has now been released, defence minister Mark Francois said the Ministry of Defence (MOD) had twice raised objections to the scheme.

He said the site was in the line of sight of radar installations at RAF Marham, RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk and RAF Cranwell and RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.

And he added: “If built it would have an adverse effect on these sites’ radars, endangering personnel in the air and on the ground.”

In a joint statement, Mr Bellingham and ward borough councillor Peter Cousins welcomed the comments.

They said: “Whilst neither of us have any objection in principle to wind turbines, to us it seems quite crazy to locate small numbers on-shore when there are so many being located off-shore both in the Wash and off the Norfolk and Lincolnshire coasts.”

“Given that there has been a significant level of local objections to the Ongarhill development, these MOD objections really should be the end of the matter. It would be quite wrong for the development to go ahead when there is even a small risk to RAF personnel both in the air and on the ground.”

But Mr Francois’ letter said the MOD would work with developers to find ways to overcome their objections, if suitable proposals were put forward.

Coriolis project manager Cath Ibbotson said they were keen for further talks with defence chiefs.

She said: “We have always believed it is a good site for a wind farm. Many, many wind farms operate near airfields and we don’t see why the MOD is failing to talk to us.”

She said more information had now been submitted to West Norfolk Council, which the developers believe will address the concerns raised.