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Defence chiefs object to three Norfolk wind turbines

PUBLISHED: 18:01 09 April 2013 | UPDATED: 18:02 09 April 2013

A comparison of the proposed Oulton turbine against Big Ben.

A comparison of the proposed Oulton turbine against Big Ben.

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Three proposed wind turbine developments could be blocked after the Ministry of Defence raised concerns about potentially “detrimental” effects on nearby radar.

Trimingham Radar Station.; PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYTrimingham Radar Station.; PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The Airvolution Energy Limited proposal to construct two 126.5m-high turbines off North Walsham Road, Scottow, close to the former RAF Coltishall, will be discussed by North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) on Thursday.

Planning officers have recommended members of the development committee refuse the application on the grounds that the turbines would be 16km from the Air Defence radar at Trimingham and would cause “unacceptable interference”.

An MOD report said: “Trials carried out in 2005 concluded that wind turbines can have detrimental effects on the operation of radar which include the desensitisation of radar in the vicinity of the turbines and the creation of ‘false’ aircraft returns.”

This interference would “pose a significant risk of compromising national security”, according to the planning officer’s recommendation.

Oulton husband and wife Daisy Turville-Petre and Sam Booker.Oulton husband and wife Daisy Turville-Petre and Sam Booker.

Meanwhile the MOD has objected to an application from Bernard Matthews Wind Energy Co-Operative to build a 77m-high turbine on Oulton Airfield, in Oulton village near Aylsham.

The turbine would be 18km from Trimingham and the MOD had similar concerns to the Scottow proposal.

Those same fears have also prompted the applicant of a proposed 78m-high turbine off Selbrigg Road, Hempstead, near Holt, to withdraw the plans, according to a spokesman from NNDC.

Coltishall villager Roy Bailey, who was one of 108 objectors to the Scottow plan, said: “I’m sure some people don’t realise the proposed height of the turbines. They will be 20 times the height of my two-storey pitched roof cottage.”

The turbines would be taller than Norwich Cathedral which is 96m high.

Mr Bailey, who lives close to the site, added: “There would be a detrimental effect with regard to tourism and the local economy. I know someone who runs a caravan park in the area and he said past customers have said they would not return because of the turbines.

“I’m objecting because it is close to me but I’m also concerned for the whole of Norfolk. Do we want these kind of structures in such a lovely area? They will be seen for miles.”

Other concerns raised by villagers, according to the planning officer’s report, included claims that turbines were inefficient and ugly, they would cause noise pollution and general anxiety/stress for nearby homeowners and they would have a detrimental impact on health.

But despite the NNDC conservation, design and landscape manager admitting there would be “localised significant impacts” from the turbines, the overall effect on the landscape was not significant, the report says.

There were two letters of support sent to NNDC which said the turbines would add drama to the landscape and they were vital for the country’s energy security.

The applicants claimed that each of the turbines would generate enough energy for about 2,315 homes each year and £300,000 would be given to community projects over the turbines’ 25-year lifespan.

Bernard Matthews owns the proposed Oulton turbine plot which is close to the Blickling Conservation Area, home of the grade 1 listed Blickling Hall. The National Trust has objected to the application, which will be considered by Broadland District Council.

National Trust planning adviser for the East of England, Sian Derbyshire, said in a letter to Broadland: “As a guardian of these places of historic interest and natural beauty, we have a duty to protect them. We accept there is a place for wind in a mix of renewable technologies which we must pursue to help us meet the country’s low carbon energy and energy security needs. But each wind proposal should be located, designed and on a scale that avoids compromising the special qualities of its locality.”

Sam Booker, 41, from Oulton, said: “We just don’t think the airfield is the right place for the turbine. There is nothing else of that height around here.”

An extraordinary parish council meeting to discuss the plan will be held in Oulton Chapel on Tuesday, April 16 at 8pm. It will be open to the public.

It is not known when the Broadland District Council planning committee will discuss the application.

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