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Shipdham and Bradenham’s despair as turbine appeal goes to High Court judge

Villagers are asking “when does no mean no?” after an energy firm which was denied planning permission for two wind turbines at a Norfolk farm has taken its case to the High Court.

The scheme for two 100m-high turbines between Shipdham and Bradenham, near Dereham, was turned down by communities secretary Eric Pickles in September following the advice of a planning inspector.

The plans were first put forward 14 years ago and since then there have been four public inquiries into the scheme.

In a letter to the applicants, Ecotricity, Mr Pickles said the scheme “would also lead to an intensification of risk to aviation by virtue of factors associated with air traffic control and Shipdham airfield”.

The applicants branded the refusal “irrational” and said aviation safety never formed any part of Breckland Council’s initial decision to refuse planning permission.

The company argues that council members rejected the proposal solely on the basis of impact on the landscape, despite a recommendation from their planning officer that the plan should be approved.

The High Court heard how Ecotricity says rejecting its planning appeal on the basis of aviation safety was “manifestly unfair and irrational”, with the inspector having accepted at the inquiry that the agreed position between the company and Norwich International Airport being that an aviation safeguarding condition should be imposed.

It says that the inspector did not raise any other aviation concerns, nor did any objecting party represented at the inquiry.

Shipdham Flying Club, however, had objected to the planned turbines.

Deputy Judge Charles George QC is to reserve his decision, and give a judgment in writing at a later date.

It is hoped that either way a final decision will soon be made and the long-running saga will finally come to an end.

Parish council chairman Paul Hewett said: “The whole situation has blighted the lives of people in the village for more than 10 years. We’ve got residents saying ‘when will this end?’ When does no mean no?”