Final day of Pulham wind turbine inquiry

A renewable energy firm was accused of 'grossly understating' the impact three large wind turbines could have on a rural area of south Norfolk during the closing day of a public inquiry.

Representatives from South Norfolk Council and the 4Villages opposition group attacked the validity of assessments put forward by appellant TCI Renewables into matters such as visual impact and the site's biodiversity.

But the Oxford-based company hit back accusing objectors of attempting to 'stretch evidence beyond its natural breaking point' to back up their own arguments.

Yesterday final submissions from the three parties were presented to inspector Zoe Hill, which concluded a nine-day inquiry held at South Norfolk Council.

TCI Renewables appealed against the council's decision to refuse planning permission for three 126m high turbines at Upper Vaunces Farm between Rushall, Dickleburgh, Pulham Market and Pulham St Mary.

Jonathan Clay, for 4Villages, said the development's 'devastating' impact on residential amenity should not be outweighed in favour of hitting renewable energy targets.

'It is hard to avoid the unpleasant sensation that in their evangelism for the project they promote, the appellant's representatives have lost touch with the values and judgments of ordinary people,' he said.

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Asitha Ranatunga, for South Norfolk Council, added: 'The underlying concern is that this was a site chosen by the appellant before any proper and complete assessment had been taken of the landscape and the visual amenity impacts.

'Everything has been put forward since in an ex post facto, and ultimately flawed, justification for an inappropriate site.'

But David Hardy, representing TCI Renewables, said arguments against its evidence just hid a reluctance by objectors to accept necessary change.

He added: 'Just like everywhere else, the countryside is valued at a local level. But when the sheer scale of deployment to meet demanding targets is grappled with, the realisation dawns that there will have to be a sea of change in public opinion and public acceptance right across England.'

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