Packed council office hears first day of Norfolk wind turbine planning inquiry
16:06 01 April 2014
Archant Norfolk 2010
Developers behind controversial plans for three wind turbines at a south Norfolk village hailed the scheme as a “good fit” with local planning policy at the start of a planning inquiry.
David Hardy, representing renewable energy firm TCI Renewables, said the plans for the 126m high wind turbines on land at Busseys Loke in Hempnall would meet important national renewable energy targets, mitigate the effects of climate change, provide Norfolk with energy security and reduce the cost of energy bills to the consumer.
However, villagers in Hempnall, including a number who attended the planning inquiry at South Norfolk Council’s offices on Tuesday, have been opposed to the proposals because they fear the scheme would have an adverse visual impact on the surrounding area as well as creating noise for residents.
Mr Hardy said a previous planning inspector had established the principle of building a wind farm at Hempnall, while there would not be any harm to the surrounding areas of Saxlingham Green, Fritton and Thetford Farm.
He added: “The truth is that the proposed development has a good degree of fit with the guidelines in the council’s study. In other words, the council is getting a good wind farm in accordance with its guidance.”
The three turbines would also bring community benefits, he added, while the installation could also be dismantled quite easily, concluding that the benefits of the scheme outweighed the disadvantages.
But the council’s barrister Asitha Ranatunga told the inquiry, held by planning inspector John Braithwaite, a previous plan for seven turbines on the same appeal site had been turned down by inspector David Lavender in 2009 due to the potential harm on the landscape character and cultural heritage harm to nearby Grade I listed St Margaret’s Church, the Hempnall conservation area, as well as bat populations and equestrian routes.
He also said the developer had taken two goes at producing an “acceptable” scheme, having reduced the number of turbines on the site, but these would still have a detrimental impact on the surrounding area.
“The reality is that the unacceptable impacts resulting from the appeal scheme will be present for a generation at least and local people will have to live amongst and around these turbines for that substantial period,” Mr Ranatunga added.
And Zack Simons, a solicitor representing Hempnall Parish Council, referred to a report by landscape consultant Michelle Bulger, who also raised concerns about the impact of the development on the surrounding area, as well as the bat population.
Among the villagers present were representatives of the Stop Hempnall’s Onshore Wind Turbines (SHOWT) campaign group.
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