Stalham windfarm decision today

A windfarm on the outskirts of Stalham looks set to be turned down after more than 300 people objected to it.

But the developer has hit out at the 'nimbyism' of the opponents – saying local green power generation is a must for the future.

Plans for two 130m-tall turbines have drawn opposition from neighbouring householders, parish councils and conservation experts.

Councillors are due to decide the fate of the project today and are being recommended to refuse the scheme because its eco-benefits are outweighed by the potential damage to the sensitive and historic landscape around it.

Andy Hilton, managing director of Windpower Renewables said the two turbines produced four times the power of the larger windfarm at nearby West Somerton and could power all the homes in and around Stalham.

While big offshore farms were being developed there was still a need for onshore wind turbines but it 'would never take off if people say not in my back yard'. He added: 'We are running out of gas and oil, cannot use coal and it will take another 10-15 years to build nuclear power stations. How do we turn the lights on?'

Mr Hilton, who managed the Scroby Sands windfarm and has more than 25 years experience in the power industry, said his company was exploring four onshore projects, and felt the Stalham scheme would overcome any planning rejection on appeal. The turbines at Grove Farm, Ingham are 800m north of the edge of Stalham's built-up area and would generate enough power for 3,600 homes.

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A report to North Norfolk District Council's development committee says the plans have also generated 311 letters of objection, as well as others from parish councils at Brumstead, Ingham, Lessingham, East Ruston and Stalham, which includes another petition from 130 people who attended a public meeting.

Stalham Town Council chairman Tony Ross-Benham denied the opposition was based on 'nimbyism' adding: 'We are not against green energy but we are concerned about the sheer size of these turbines which will dominate the skyline and ruin the landscape of a tourist town if people see these monstrosities.

'If they were smaller and further away from housing, they would not be a problem.'

Reasons cited by opponents include spoiling the countryside, noise, danger to wildlife, inefficiency of turbines as an energy source, light 'flicker' from the blades and television interference concerns.

The Broads Authority also says it is 'strongly and implacably opposed' to the impact on the wide skies and landscape.

North Norfolk's own conservation and landscape manager also says the turbines would harm the local listed buildings and countryside

English Heritage is concerned about the impact on the views of two medieval churches at Brumstead and Ingham. And county council highways officials are recommending refusal because construction traffic would 'endanger the satisfactory functioning' of the local road network.

More than 50 responses have supported the turbines citing: the need to tackle climate change; they use renewable energy and they are a preferable option to fossil fuel energy.The turbines would be 2km from the Broads and officers did not think they would make a significant impact on the landscape.

Only four properties would be vulnerable to 'shadow flicker', and sensors could be added to prevent it.

But the appraisal to councillors concludes that while government guidance is to encourage renewable energy, it had to balance the benefits with the impact on the landscape.

Despite a �10,000 'mitigation fund' to help conservation, including a hedge restoration fund, wind turbines are 'an alien feature' within the North Norfolk landscape and could damage the 'sensitive and historic area'.