Campaigners protest against Norfolk wind turbines plan

Placard-waving protestors gathered outside a public exhibition last night to fight against plans to build wind turbines near a Norfolk village.

Up to 50 representatives from SHOWT (Stop Hempnall's Onshore Wind Turbines) protested outside Oxford-based firm TCI Renewables' exhibition at Hempnall Village Hall of plans to build four new wind turbines at Streetwood Wind Farm in the village.

The protest group was formed to campaign against previous plans by Enertrag UK to build seven turbines on the same 150 hectare farmland at Bussey's Loke, off the B1527 Bungay Road, which were rejected by South Norfolk Council in 2008.

However, SHOWT chairman Geoff Moulton, 63, vowed to continue the fight against the latest proposal for four 131m high turbines which he said were too high and would have a detrimental visual impact on the village.

He added: 'We have been fighting this campaign for six years now and our biggest concern would be the visual impact on a beautiful rolling countryside scene.

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'What is proposed now is 131m, which is just six metres shorter than the London Eye and we are talking about four large industrial structures of that magnitude.'

Mr Moulton, of Rectory Road, Topcroft, said offshore, rather than onshore, wind turbines were a better option as the wind was more predictable out at sea, as opposed to inland where the amount of electric generated could vary.

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Another protestor Hilary Battye, 57, of The Street, Hempnall feared the developer was putting commercial concerns ahead of the local environment by trying to gain government subsidies for renewable energy projects.

She also felt the exact location where the turbines would go within the 150 hectare site had not been specified, making it difficult for villagers to decide whether they agreed with the proposal.

She added: 'Where these wind turbines are situated is extremely important for listed buildings, conservation areas, bats and woods. They can't then have a consultation with the community when they have not specified where the turbines should be.'

South Norfolk councillor Michael Windridge, who represents Hempnall, was also opposed to the plans and slammed TCI Renewables for not providing specific details of where the turbines will be sited.

He said: 'I am greatly dismayed that TCI is attempting to flout the clearly stated will of the majority of Hempnall's parishioners by trying to rescue Enertrag's abortive plans for an inappropriately sited wind turbine development.

'The reason the previous developer, Enertrag, pulled out was that they could not earn the support of the local community. It is really disappointing that TCI Renewables do not understand that.

'They are as misguided as Enertrag were in failing to understand the attachment local people have to the landscape and local environment.'

But TCI Renewables director Bruce Hutt said his firm's scheme was smaller than Enertrag's application because planning inspectors said a reduced number of turbines would be acceptable on the site.

He admitted the turbines were tall structures, but this had to be balanced against the environmental benefits of having an energy supply that was sustainable and no longer dependent on fossil fuels.

'If you put up turbines, you are going to see them. The fact of the matter is that people are naturally conservative in their nature and they are always opposed to these things, but if you speak to people after they go up, they no longer have any objections,' Mr Hutt added.

The turbines are expected to produce enough electricity to power the entire village of Hempnall, or approximately 5,200 homes and reduce carbon emissions by around 9,900 tonnes per year.

The developer also plans to provide the location with �16,000 funding annually from revenue generated by the turbines, which will be supplying electric for the national grid.

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