New twist in Hempnall wind turbine saga

A long-running battle over a proposed wind farm took a new twist after it emerged that a different renewable energy firm was looking to develop a south Norfolk site.

Plans for seven large turbines at Hempnall were rejected by a planning inspector two years ago following an application, which was unanimously refused by district councillors.

However, a scaled-down project could soon be on the table under a different developer after it emerged that Oxford-based TCI Renewables was looking to buy the site off Bussey's Loke from Enertrag.

German-owned Enertrag, which recently closed its regional office in Diss, announced in March that it was reviewing its local operations after failing to get an onshore wind scheme approved in south Norfolk.

Turbine objectors in Hempnall are preparing for a fresh battle after being told that TCI Renewables was looking to take on the project.

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It comes after Enertrag held a consultation event in the village in January for the Streetwood Wind Farm, but have yet to submit a planning application for the four 126m-high turbines, which they claimed would generate enough renewable energy to power 4,413 homes.

Michael Windridge, local district councillor, said he was told by Bruce Hutt, head of UK operations at TCI Renewables, on Friday that the company was interested in the Hempnall site.

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'The reason they [Enertrag] are pulling out is that they can not earn the support of the local community and 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,' he said.

Christopher Small, a director for Enertrag, said the company was in negotiations about signing over some of its projects, including the Streetwood scheme at Hempnall.

'As a company we investigate a lot of potential sites, but sometimes the political and local community do not think it is a good idea and sometimes we have to bow down. The situation at Hempnall is very open. I just hope the political landscape will change in East Anglia and would enable the county and community to meet their renewable energy targets,' he said.

Enertrag plans for three turbines at Tivetshall St Mary are currently awaiting determination at South Norfolk Council.

Officials at TCI Renewables declined to comment. The company also lodged an appeal against the refusal of three 126m-high turbines at the former Pulham airfield in south Norfolk, which was the subject of an inquiry in June. A planning inspector has yet to make a ruling.

Geoff Moulton, chairman of Hempnall Parish Council and the SHOWT (Stop Hempnall's Onshore Wind Turbines) chairman, added: 'The people of Hempnall and surrounding villages have been absolutely against the concept of onshore turbines for probably five years now. It is no coincidence that they [Enertrag] have decided to pull out of East Anglia after the last consultation exercise went down like a lead balloon. We have been in hibernation mode, but as soon as a further application is made we will be back to the war zone.'

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