BACKGROUNDER: ‘Nimbys’ blamed for lack of Norfolk turbines

Since the first large-scale wind turbine was built off the A47 near Swaffham 11 years ago, just a smattering of onshore masts have been constructed in Norfolk and north Suffolk.

In the last three years, an extra two have been approved at the nearby North Pickenham wind farm, five at Holton, near Halesworth, two off the A12 near Lowestoft, and two off the A140 at Eye Airfield. But many more schemes have failed to get the go-ahead from planners as a result objections from residents and consultees, with some unresolved projects more than six years old.

The East of England had only met half of its 2010 10pc renewable energy target before the coalition government announced the end of Regional Spatial Strategies, according to RenewableUK. And currently, there are more than 3,000 onshore and offshore turbines across the country capable of powering three million homes.

However, objectors have questioned the value of the variable energy source, which is dependent on the elements.

Reg Thompson, of the Creakes Action for Protecting the Environment (CAPE), which is opposing proposals for a development near Fakenham of six 125m-high turbines said they had several concerns including the 'destruction' of the countryside.

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The Against Turbines at Chiplow (ATAC) campaign group has been formed to fight five 100m-high masts at nearby Syderstone. Stop Turbines Ruining Our Lovely Landscape (STROLL) has also been established after a wind measuring mast was approved at Docking.

'We have lovely views from here and a wind farm will stick out like a block of flats. There are the noise issues and frankly they do not work. The main place to get them is offshore. I live eight miles off the coast and it is strange to put them in my back yard when we could put them in the sea,' he said.

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Simon Peltenburg, project manager of RES Renewable Energy Systems, which is behind the South Creake scheme, said there were a lot of constraints on siting turbines in Norfolk, including the impact on military radar. He added that 51pc of respondents to a local poll were in favour of his project and there were a lot of 'myths' about turbines.

'The difficulty is that the larger scale turbines increase the efficiency and electricity generation, but these large structures constitute a change in the area and that concerns people. However, most people I have taken on site visits to operating wind farms say that most of their concerns are unwarranted.'

'There is a very large silent number of people that are in support. I think there is the fear of the unknown and there is an awful lot of misinformation on the internet,' he said.

Michael Windridge, South Norfolk Councillor for Hempnall, said Enertrag was 'deluded' in claiming that only 10 to 15pc of residents were against onshore wind turbines. The company is drawing up scaled-down plans in the village after a seven turbine scheme was dismissed by councillors and a planning inspector. He also challenged Enertrag to put up a candidate in the May local elections.

'Climate change represents the biggest moral challenge facing the world today, but the sort of gigantic turbines which are being proposed for Hempnall - and which don't work if the wind is too high or too low - are a useless solution to our renewable energy needs,' he said.

But having a wind farm next door can have its community benefits.

Michael Lee, clerk of North Pickenham Parish Council, said the nearby wind farm, approved in 2006, had helped strengthen the gravestones at the village churchyard, put up electric speed signs, a mini turbine at the school, and was funding a new bus shelter from Enertrag's community contributions. He added that wind farms could be a positive thing if the right location was found out of sight and away from people's homes.

'In my view, it comes down to whether you like them or not and there are certainly no noise or shadow flicker issues,' he said.

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