New twist in Dereham’s 10-year wind turbine saga

A decade-long battle over proposals to build two giant wind turbines in a Norfolk village has been re-ignited after an energy company submitted a fresh application.

Ecotricity began working on plans for the 100m structures at Wood Farm on Church Lane in Shipdham, near Dereham, in 2001.

But applications to Breckland Council, appeals to the planning inspectorate and even a High Court challenge have failed to win the scheme approval.

Now, 10 years after its first attempt, the energy company has made yet another bid for planning permission.

Yesterday Brian Kidd, from the Campaign Against Turbines in Shipdham (CATS), said the group had been expecting this latest twist, after the company indicated earlier this year it would try again, but added: 'It's disappointing they should still persist with this unreasonable application for turbines in Shipdham.'

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The group, which says the turbines will be too close to homes, had been on a hiatus since the Ecotricity's last appeal was dismissed in 2008 but is set to re-form to discuss what action to take now.

Last night the energy company insisted it had listened to the concerns voiced over the past 10 years.

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Spokesman Mike Cheshire said its latest application featured a revised layout of the wind park which placed the turbines 630m away from the nearest homes – 200m further than the previous design.

He said rises in coal and gas prices – and the subsequent hike in energy bills – made it more important than ever to create green energy sources.

Mr Cheshire added: 'We've gone to considerable lengths to ensure that our additional data on the existing background noise and wind speed is as accurate as possible. It has re-confirmed that this is a good place to make clean, green energy from the wind.'

But campaigners believe there is still plenty of cause for concern, even with the new design.

Mr Kidd said CATS members were not Nimbys and had genuine worries about the visual impact the development would have on the village and the noise it would create.

He said: 'The concerns are the same as they have always been. Although this is a slightly different layout, they are still extremely close to private properties.'

The proposed development would consist of two turbines which would be 100m to the tip of the blade, an electrical substation, access tracks between the turbines and substation, underground cabling and a temporary 'construction compound'.

Once built, Ecotricity said the turbines would each have a capacity of 2.3MW – an increase on the previous application due to advances in the technology – and would be capable of generating electricity for 3,385 homes – or 6.7pc of the households in Breckland.

Mr Cheshire said, had the development been built following the original application, it would have made enough green energy for 2,800 homes by now and save 34,000 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions.

Breckland Council confirmed it had received Ecotricity's new application on Monday. The authority has 13 weeks to process the application and put it before its development control committee.

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