Wind farm near Fakenham refused planning permission

Campaigners are jubilant after plans for a wind farm near Fakenham were refused, but the fight against a further six turbines at a neighbouring village continues.

E.ON Climate and Renewable Energy saw its application for five wind turbines on land at Chiplow, near Syderstone, rejected during a lively West Norfolk Council meeting in King's Lynn today.

The development control board refused planning permission amid fears about potential harm to the landscape, two local heritage sites - Bloodgate Hillfort and Houghton Hall - and wildlife.

A decision was expected on RES UK's bid to build a second wind farm at Jack's Lane, near Stanhoe, less than two miles away, but the item was deferred after Natural England withdrew its objection at the eleventh hour.

With the local elections set for next month, the board is not due to meet again until June 6 and frustrated campaigners face an anxious wait until then.

The Chiplow turbines were opposed by parish councils, North Norfolk District Council, English Heritage and the Ministry of Defence, which stated that the wind farm would cause 'unacceptable' interference to the air traffic control radar at RAF Marham.

West Norfolk Council also received 609 letters of objection and only one letter of support ahead of the meeting.

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Cllr Nick Ullswater, ward member for Docking, said the 'colossal' wind farm would make the tall cranes at Bircham Newton 'look like toys in comparison.'

'Like tinnitis, the noise is constant and distressing. It would blight the landscape for 25 years or more,' he added.

Mick Askew, a Syderstone parish councillor, raised concerns about the potential impact on tourism and jobs in the area. 'If these industrial wind farms are allowed to be erected on this beautiful unspoiled landscape, all those reasons why thousands of people come to West Norfolk will be lost,' he told the meeting.

Reg Thompson, a campaigner with ATAC (Against Turbines at Chiplow), wanted the application refused on the added grounds that it posed an unacceptable risk to pink-footed geese.

The RSPB and Natural England have not objected to the application and planning officers warned that if the decision went to appeal, the council could have to hire its own consultants to provide evidence to support the claim.

Cllr Hugh Symington said it would be 'money well-spent' and the board voted to add pink-footed geese to its list of reasons for refusal.

Victoria Stacey, E.ON's project developer, said the wind farm would help the region to meet the government's renewable energy targets, providing power for 5,600 homes locally, and it was confident the MoD objection could be overcome.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Thompson said: 'This is an excellent decision for localism and it's the right one because it was a completely inappropriate location.' He said the delay on the second application was frustrating, but campaigners would be back for June's meeting.

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