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Contentious Clare wind turbine plans are passed

Contentious plans for a wind turbine in Clare were passed by councillors last week, though fears were raised it could set a precedent that would see more erected in the area.

St Edmundsbury Council’s development control committee spend almost two hours hearing about the application at last Thursday’s (April 4) meeting before following planning officer Gemma Pannell’s recommendation and approving the turbine with nine councillors voting for the plans and four against them.

The plans for the 78 metre high turbine – the height of a 25 storey building – on Maple Hill off Chilton Street, Clare, was opposed by Clare, Stoke by Clare, Hundon, Ashen and Kedington parish councils, along with English Heritage, the Colne-Stour Countryside Association, Dedham Vale area of natural beauty (AONB) and Stour Valley Project, the Suffolk Preservation Society and the Stop Turbines Over Clare (STOC) action group.

However, councillors chose to ignore those concerns and the 170 objection letters received and vote through the plans.

Mr Sills said the wind turbine would provide power for 319 home, though Ioana Parker, from STOC, said it would only power 125 homes.

“A renewable energy project that does more harm than good is not a sustainable development and under planning policy should be refused,” she said.

“The benefit is some electricity being generated resulting in some CO2 savings, but this is in the bottom five per cent of places for generating wind in the UK so the benefit is miniscule compare to the harm that would be caused.

“The introduction of a vertical structure atop a hill in an area as unspoilt as this will cause irreparable damage to the landscape.”

Concerns were also raised about Mr Sills’ estimates of how much power would be generated, as he based his figures on online data rather than data collected at the site.

BT dropped plans for three turbines in Clare after their research showed there was not enough wind to make it financially viable, but Mr Sills said in a letter to residents that putting up one wind turbine is entirely different to erecting three, thus making his viable.

Margaret Golding from Clare Town Council raised concerns about the volume of lorries that would be going through the town as construction traffic.

Councillors were reassured that the cables to connect the turbine to the grid would run underground.

Borough councillors Alaric Pugh (Clare), Dorothy Whittaker (Hundon) and Maureen Byrne (Haverhill) all opposed the turbine.

Anne Gower (Haverhill) – who represents Kedington at Suffolk County Council – voted for the wind turbine, despite Kedington’s opposition it.

The councillors chose to remaining anonymous in their voting by not supporting the call for a recorded vote.

For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, April 11) Echo.