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MP poised to profit from turbines as his constituents battle blight  

Credit:  By Robert Mendick | The Telegraph | 30 June 2013 | www.telegraph.co.uk ~~

The residents of Kessingland, a village on the Suffolk coast, had wondered why their local MP was not doing more to tackle the blight caused by two towering wind turbines close to their homes.

They suspect they now have their answer. Peter Aldous, the Conservative MP who represents them, is expected to profit from another wind turbine being planned on land owned by his family.

Villagers, some of whom live just 550 yards from the two 400ft high turbines, claim their lives have been dogged by a constant swooshing noise since the machines began operating two years ago.

They also blame the turning blades for creating an unnerving “flickering shadow” effect at certain times of the day.

Residents have lobbied Mr Aldous, the local council and the wind-energy company in the hope that the turbines might be switched off at night and when the flickering is at its worst.

But while he has listened to their concerns, the Kessingland villagers complain that he has done little to lobby on their behalf.

“He hasn’t done anything for us,” claimed Jean Purkis, 76, a member of the Kessingland Wind Turbine Pressure Group, adding: “Now we can see why.”

Mr Aldous, who is an ardent supporter of renewable energy, owns a stake in his family’s farmland near Ipswich, which is earmarked for a wind turbine. The turbine, which needs planning permission, will be on land rented out to Jimmy’s Farm, the pig farm run by Jimmy Doherty that has featured in television series on both BBC Two and Channel 4.

It will be one of a pair, the other turbine being on publicly owned land.

The farm is almost an hour’s drive from Mr Aldous’s family home in Halesworth in Suffolk.

Mr Aldous also owns a further one-fifth share in 55 acres of farmland next to his home. This land has been transformed into a solar- energy farm. Mr Aldous and his family will receive hundreds of thousands of pounds in rent for the solar farm over its 20-year lifetime, although the precise figure is subject to a confidentiality agreement between the Aldous family and the developers.

Mr Aldous has registered in Parliament his financial interests in the land but it has not stopped residents in Kessingland from being angry.

Adrian Gower, 66, a retired IT consultant and another member of the protest group, said: “One of the issues is that we don’t feel we are getting any support from the authorities representing us, including the MP. He should be more proactive but instead he has tended to sit on the fence.

“When we have had meetings with the turbines’ owners, he has chaired them, whereas he should be representing his constituents. I don’t think Peter Aldous has done anything to help us out. So when I discovered he had turbines planned on his land, it made me suspicious about his motives.”

The two turbines at Kessingland were given planning permission by an inspector in 2008, two years before Mr Aldous was elected MP for Waveney, although they became operational only in 2011. But his constituents believe he should be doing more to get them switched off, especially at night.

Mr Gower said: “At night you can hear the turbines thumping away. We also get what’s called ‘shadow flicker’ so that if you are inside your house, there is this flickering effect, which is quite unnerving. One of our neighbours had to start sleeping in a different bedroom.”

The long-running row over Kessingland has been bitterly fought. Residents say that noise levels have breached environmental health regulations and are grounds for shutting the turbines down. Its owners dispute this.

Mr Aldous said he was primarily supportive of wind farms because of the jobs that large offshore projects will bring to his constituency on the coast. He said his financial interest in the single wind turbine earmarked for Ipswich was small. He owned a one-fifteenth share in the land, which had been in his family’s possession for about 90 years. He said his brother acted as the estate manager for the farm and that he took a back-seat role in any decisions.

Mr Aldous said: “I have tried to act as a mediator to sort out the issues at Kessingland. The problem is the planning permission had already been granted long before I was an MP and had any involvement.”

He said Triodos Renewables, the turbine owner, had been receptive to complaints and brought in measures to cut noise and shadow flicker. He added: “I don’t think I have a single outstanding complaint about the turbines.”

A spokesman for Triodos said it had installed technology to one of the turbines that meant it automatically switched off in conditions that created too much noise. It had also put in place measures to reduce flicker in the worst-affected houses.

The spokesman added: “We are not just abiding with the planning consent, we are going above and beyond that. We want to engage with our neighbours.”

Source:  By Robert Mendick | The Telegraph | 30 June 2013 | www.telegraph.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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