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Councillors being advised to approve wind turbines at Shipdham, near Dereham

PUBLISHED: 16:10 05 July 2012

Controversy continues over wind turbine plans at Shipdham

Controversy continues over wind turbine plans at Shipdham

Archant 2012

Plans for two giant wind turbines could be approved next week - 10 years they were first refused by councillors.

The application by energy firm Ecotricity for the two 100-metre turbines on agricultural land at Wood Farm, Church Lane, between Bradenham and Shipdham near Dereham, has led to a bitter wrangle with a number of appeals and inquiries and a High Court judicial review.

On Monday Breckland’s planning committee will be recommended to grant permission and a report from officers says “there would be no unacceptable impacts on the local area with regard to cultural heritage, landscape, visual amenity, aviation safety/radar and protected species.”

Members will also be told that issues of noise and “shadow flicker” have been dealt with by the applicant.

Ecotricity spokesman Nick Osbourne, said: “It has been a long journey since our original application and we are pleased the planning officer shares our confidence in the new proposal.

“Of course there have been some concerns, but we have had great support from the community and our new plans reflect changes suggested by a local resident who was opposed to the original proposal, and previous concerns around noise have also been remedied in co-operation with local people. We now look forward cautiously but hopefully to Monday’s decision.”

Ecotricity claims the proposed turbines will provide enough green energy to power over 3,300 homes every year.

If approved, Ecotricity’s Green Britain Fund would allocate a fund of £4,600 every year which local people can apply for, a total of £115,000 over the 25 year lifespan.

But Stephen Kite, chairman of the Campaign Against Turbines in Shipdham and Bradenham, said: “Capita, the agency Breckland employ for planning, have inexplicably recommended acceptance, contradicting the previous three rejections by Breckland, when planning was under its own auspices, advising councillors to ignore their own clearly-stated policies and crystal-clear legal rulings.

“The government has said it is committed to localism. One of the key definitions of localism it gives is ‘to empower communities to do things their way by creating rights for people to get involved with, and direct the development of, their communities.’”

Mr Kite added: “We are the community who would be directly and adversely affected by turbines erected too close to our homes. We have no intention of bowing to the tactics of repeated applications exploiting planning law that Ecotricity continues to employ to browbeat us into submission.”

Bradenham and Shipdham parish councils both object and in its submission to the committee, Shipdham council said: “These applications have been received for many years, with no material difference, and each application has caused Geoff Hinchliffe, who leads the pro-wind farm group, Challenge Against Nimbyism in Shipdham (CANIS), said: “Alternative energy sources can help to alleviate the growing energy crisis and this application has our full support. Our local group was founded to counter the disinformation and scaremongering triggered by the initial proposal: we are convinced that those exaggerations have been dispelled, and that legitimate concerns have now been met. We also believe that the local anti-group, as a single- issue group, does not represent the opinions of a majority in the village.”

English Heritage has asked for the turbines to be removed at the end of their operational life and the Ministry of Defence has no objections subject to a series of conditions.

The Environment Agency and Natural England have not objected but CPRE Norfolk is opposed to the plan and said: “The visual effects of the turbines proposed will be both significant and detrimental to the landscape of Shipdham and the surrounding countryside, near and far.”

Breckland officers are asking for a large number of conditions to be attached to the planning permission relating to issues such as wildlife, noise, lighting and highways.

Monday’s meeting will be the latest twist in the decade long saga.

Breckland refused permission in 2002 due to the impact on the landscape and traffic concerns.

The applicaton was refused on appeal a year later due to potential noise problems and in 2005 a new plan for two smaller turbines was turned down by Breckland as there were concerns about civil aircraft safety.

But an appeal in 2006 was allowed and the inspector highlighted that it tied in with the government’s energy policies.

However, that appeal decision was quashed at the High Court and it was referred back to the Planning Inspectorate.

*The Breckland planning meeting is being held at the council’s committee suite at its Dereham offices on Monday. The meeting starts at 9.30am but the turbines item will not be heard before 1.30pm.

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