It was standing room only as a public inquiry into a controversial application to build a 125-metre high wind turbine on a farm at Barsham, near Beccles, got under way.
Waveney District Council refused Stamford Renewables’ application to build the 2MW turbine on land at Laurels Farm in March on noise and visual impact grounds, having previously refused applications to build three and then two turbines on the site.
However Stamford Renewables appealed the decision, and yesterday government inspector Robert Mellor launched an inquiry to decide if the application should go ahead.
Mr Mellor said the issues he would be looking at were the effect the turbine would have on the landscape, on the living conditions of the nearby residents and noise and whether any identified harm in these respects would be outweighed by any benefits.
Speaking for Waveney council, Jonathan Clay said the turbine would be the tallest structure in the landscape for miles and the effect on the natural beauty of the Broads and the enjoyment of them should be a major issue in the appeal.
He added: “The development will contribute 2MW to the National Grid. It is an immeasurably small contribution and will make no measurable contribution to reducing climate change.
“This is a case where the development will cause substantial damage to a landscape of national importance, with consequent damage to recreational enjoyment of it and the quality of life of residents.”
Speaking on behalf of Stamford Renewables, Jeremy Pike said the landscape surrounding the site was not more special or noteworthy than other landscapes in which turbines of the same size have been built. He said the visual effects close to the site would be significant but the effect on the wider landscape was not likely to be significant.
He added: “The pressing need for more onshore renewables provision cannot be doubted or challenged.
“There are few if any other new renewables proposals coming forward in this district to meet the targets. In this context the relatively limited impacts resulting from this proposed turbine, upon landscape and visual amenity in the local area, including a very small part of the Broads, is something which can and should be considered acceptable.”
Residents’ opposition group HALT was represented by Geoffrey Sinclair who said that in terms of relevant planning policy the energy benefits did not outweigh the significant harm that would result.
The inquiry, at Belsey Bridge Conference Centre in Ditchingham, is due to continue until Friday.
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