Lotus turbine poised for refusal

CELIA WIGG Controversial proposals to develop a wind farm at Norfolk sports car manufacturer Lotus' test track have been recommended for refusal by district planners.

CELIA WIGG

Controversial proposals to develop a windfarm at Norfolk sports-car manufacturer Lotus's test track have been recommended for refusal by district planners.

Green-energy company Ecotricity is seeking consent for three 120m turbines that would generate enough power to meet all Lotus needs at its Hethel premises, near Wymondham, with spare capacity to supply more than 1,000 homes through the National Grid.

Producing renewable power on site would also enable Lotus to minimise its carbon- dioxide emissions which contribute to global warming.

Objectors include the Ministry of Defence, which claims the turbines would cause "unacceptable interference" to the air- defence radar at RAF Trimingham, as well as neighbouring residents who fear their lives will be blighted by the structures.

Among the concerns are the visual impact over large areas of unspoilt countryside, the industrial nature of the development, potential noise and shadow flicker, and the effect on farm animals and wildlife.

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There have been 111 protest letters and six in support.

Ecotricity has submitted an environmental statement, addressing many of the issues. But John Tomlinson, South Norfolk Council's head of planning, believes the impact on the air-defence radar cannot be mitigated, although the scheme is acceptable in all other respects.

A separate application for a temporary 50m wind-measuring mast is tipped for approval.

Both applications are due to be determined at a special planning meeting on Tuesday at the council's Long Stratton headquarters.

Alan Benstead, chairman of the campaign group fighting the development, said: "The news advising that SNC planning officers are to recommend refusal is welcome.

"However, in view of the Defence Estates' objection, it is difficult to reconcile the decision to recommend approval for the erection of an anemometer on this site."

Dale Vince, Ecotricity's managing director, stressed that the Trimingham radar system was due to be replaced early next year specifically to solve problems with inter-ference from wind turbines.

"We are very pleased that the scheme has got the all- clear in other respects and we are talking to the MoD right now to apply a Grampian condition." This, he said, would mean approval could be granted on condition that no development takes place until the radar station has been relocated.

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