Public hearing for wind turbine bid at Barsham, near Beccles

A controversial plan to build wind turbines on a farm near Beccles will be debated once more next month when a public hearing takes place.

Stamford Renewables initially had an application for nine wind turbines across three farms turned down by Waveney District Council, but it has appealed the decision for a site at Laurels Farm, in Barsham.

Next month a public hearing is expected to take place and the renewable energy company is making available information relating to its latest proposals to reduce the number of wind turbines to two and the power generators to 2MW.

However, the application is still for up to three turbines of up to 3MW, complete with 60m wind mast.

Philip Johnson, of HALT, a residents' group that was formed to fight the plans, said they had been analysing the new environmental data and had already identified a number of concerns.

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He said they were particularly concerned about the noise, visual impact, loss of common land and need to create an access road through Clarke's Lane.

Mr Johnson said: 'We hope that the inspector notes the widespread opposition to the Barsham turbines, accepts our arguments and does not allow this damaging development to go ahead.'

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He added: 'Furthermore, if this development is approved, it would open the door for the further turbines which Stamford Renewables has proposed for the Waveney Valley.'

Mike Stamford, chief executive of Stamford Renewables, said that the company had made strenuous attempts to minimise all impacts on the surrounding area to create 'an immensely workable and best fit solution' which has been presented to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol.

He added that it was important as there needed to be a drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity.

Mr Stamford said: 'Wind turbines prevent the combustion of coal and fossil fuels by harnessing the wind to generate electricity. Every county and district in the UK needs to do its bit and Suffolk and Waveney have a lot of catching up to do.

'An appeal hearing in February 2012 will move us one step closer to fighting climate change and a planning approval shortly after would guarantee a significant contribution towards the future energy needs of the people of Suffolk and the eastern region.'

The company initially applied for three groups of three turbines at Devonshire Farm and Granary Farm, Ringsfield, and Laurels Farm, but the council's development control committee rejected the plans in October 2010 at an extraordinary meeting in front of more than 100 people.

The main grounds for refusal included visual impact including the impact on the Broads landscape, noise, the absence of wintering bird surveys and the impact on two listed church buildings.

At the time, Mr Stamford said that by refusing the applications people had been denied secure energy-related jobs in Waveney, nearly �1.5m from all three projects over 25 years, and the opportunity to enhance the security of the region's electricity supply.

Last year The Open Spaces Society objected to the appeal saying that the turbines were unacceptable in the 'quiet, unspoilt, attractive countryside'.

•Copies of the latest proposals are at Beccles and Lowestoft libraries and at Waveney District Council's Marina Customer Services Centre in Lowestoft.

Representations should be made to the planning inspectorate in Bristol by January 30.

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