Campaigners challenge plans for three renewable energy projects at Egmere
09:00 10 December 2012
Campaigners are challenging plans for three major renewable energy projects, proposed to be built within metres of each other on land between Fakenham and Wells.
A planning application has been submitted by Egmere Energy to build a biomass-fuelled renewable energy facility on the former RAF North Creake airfield at Egmere, four miles south of Wells.
Egmere Energy Ltd claim this would produce enough electricity for the needs of more than 40,000 homes during mid-summer and 2,500 homes during mid-winter.
A separate application has been made by Solar Power Generation (SPGL) to build a solar park next to this, covering 103 acres of the former airfield.
SPGL claim this will produce enough electricity for the needs of approximately 10,000 homes.
North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) wants to create an offshore energy industry business park in the same area.
NNDC is looking to establish its first Local Development Order (LDO), which would enable companies to set up premises at a 75 acre site at Egmere without planning permission.
It is seen by NNDC as a way of bringing economic growth and well-paid jobs to the area by speeding up the planning process.
On Thursday, NNDC’s cabinet will be asked to allow a formal public consultation to be carried out on the LDO.
But residents of Bunkers Hill, Egmere have formed a campaign group, North Creake Airfield Action Stations and are organising a petition, signed by more than 120 people, asking NNDC to stop the development of the historic North Creake airfield.
They have also setup a Facebook page, erected banners asking for support and are urging develoopers to take their concerns on board.
Nigel Morter, from the campaign group, said: “We are not opposed to development and the proposition to bring well-paid jobs to the area. But we are concerned about the scale of everything. We see that too much is being proposed and we don’t want to be trampled on.
“We are worried that the plans will be rushed through and the residents’ concerns will not be taken into account.”
The group is also concerned about the lack of regard for the airfield as an important heritage site, potential dangers caused by the extra traffic and the devaluing of their homes.
Campaigners have met NNDC strategic director Steve Blatch and acting leader of the council, and district councillor for the Walsingham ward, Tom FitzPatrick.
Claire Nugent, from the campaign group, said: “I’ve heard of other cases where LDOs have been carried out and residents have been forced to sell their homes. We’ve been verbally assured that will not happen here and they can move the site, but it is still a concern.”
SPGL said as a result of responses from a public consultation, the proposed solar farm has been moved further away from the homes on Bunkers Hill.
The company said surrounding hedgerows and trees would be retained to help minimise any visual impact.
Giovanni Maruca, SPGL’S acquisitions manager, said: “There has been opposition but there has been support for our plans as well.”
Egmere Energy Ltd say its proposal will bring numerous benefits to the local community, including long-term security for local farming jobs, work to enhance local wildlife, significant spending on local businesses during and after construction and community fund to support local projects.