Windfarm proposal faces massive opposition

Developers behind a controversial windfarm have pledged to press ahead with their proposals - despite a poll of the village where it would be built revealing massive opposition to the development.

Developers behind a controversial windfarm have pledged to press ahead with their proposals - despite a poll of the village where it would be built revealing massive opposition to the development.

Enertrag UK, the Diss-based developers behind a seven 130m-turbine scheme for nearby Hempnall, said the poll results would instead make them double their efforts to win villagers over.

As the EDP reported last week, Hempnall district councillor Michael Windridge spent £400 of his own money on letters asking each resident whether they were for or against the proposal, including a stamped-addressed envelope with each.

A similar exercise by Enertrag earlier in the year merited just 25 responses from the community.

But within days of sending the letters to the 1,050 members on Hempnall's electoral roll in 550 households, Mr Windridge had received 574 responses.

He said that 477 residents had said they were opposed to the scheme, 96 were in support, and there had been one abstention - giving the 'no' camp an 83pc majority.

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Following previous comments to the EDP in which Enertrag said it would listen to the views of the community before deciding whether to submit a bid, Mr Windridge called on the company to now drop plans for the south Norfolk village.

He said: “This has proved to be a really worthwhile exercise in local democracy. Hempnall villagers have declared their respective positions in unequivocal terms.

“The massive scale of opposition to this development - at such an early stage in the planning debate - requires Enertrag to re-evaluate the merits of proceeding with such an unpopular scheme.

“I hope Enertrag and the local landowners will see common sense on this and not continue to ignore the wishes of the majority.

“It is a great tragedy to exploit Hempnall people's genuine support for renewable energy by schemes which, inevitably, will degrade and damage their local environment.”

But Terry Chapelhow, spokesman for Enertrag, said that the poll of villagers went against typical figures found in similar surveys which suggest that about 70pc of people near potential windfarms are in favour of them.

He said: “That poll result isn't surprising with all the misinformation that's going out in the village. It is certainly not a typical figure and it's now our job to get rid of all the misinformation that surrounds this proposal.

“We will be holding two more public meetings in Hempnall in the coming months and one in nearby Saxlingham Nethergate and are offering all residents a site visit to our windfarm already in operation in North Pickenham.

“Of course we will consider all views from Hempnall - but we are still determined to press ahead with this application.”

Enertrag's public consultation will continue until early summer. A planning application will be drawn up in the autumn with a decision expected early next year.

Mr Windridge will now deliver the results of the survey to South Norfolk Council for independent verification and confirmation that all signatories live within the boundaries of Hempnall parish.