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Planners give mast all-clear

PUBLISHED: 13:49 23 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:34 07 July 2010

The long-running saga of attempts to build a wind turbine at a mid-Norfolk farm took another twist yesterday after planners gave the ok for a meteorological mast to be installed on the site.

The long-running saga of attempts to build a wind turbine at a mid-Norfolk farm took another twist yesterday after planners gave the ok for a meteorological mast to be installed on the site.

After a lengthy discussion members of Breckland Council's Development Control Committee were forced to approve the 70m high mast at Wood Farm, in Bradenham, near Dereham, because they were unable to find any reasons to refuse it.

The mast was applied for by Next Generation Ltd, a subsidiary of Ecotricity which owns the two existing turbines at Swaffham, and will be used to provide data to help calculate possible noise levels of any proposed wind turbine.

Temporary planning permission for the mast was originally given back in August but the application had to return to the planning committee because of complications with a piece of land providing access to the site.

During debate on the issue objector Theresa Hewett told the committee that amongst her concerns was the fact that the mast was already in place and so members were effectively dealing with a retrospective application.

However the council's legal officer John Chinnery said that this did not have any effect of the application before committee.

Objector Dr Lee Hoare told the committee the application should be refused and said there were five main reasons.

These included insufficient environmental and technical date in the application, there was no government policy supporting the use of a 70m mast for the purposes of assessment, the mast would not be in the exact same spot as any possible turbine, the guys would provide a hazard to wildlife as they were near a watercourse and the equipment would not be installed with sufficient regulation bird deterrents.

For more than eight years Ecotricity has fought for permission to install turbines at Wood Farm.

The idea has fiercely divided the local community and led to a bitterly fought planning battle which has so far resulted in numerous planning applications and three planning inquiries.

Objector Paul Hewett told the committee he had heard that Ecotricity was already gearing up to submit another planning application for a turbine at the site in the New Year.

He said Ecotricity had treated the planning process and the development control committee “with contempt”.

“The easy cop out is to approve this but the right thing to do is to reject not only a blot on the landscape but a blot on the planning process,” he added.

Councillors initially voted to refuse the mast application but then failed to come up with any reasons to back up their refusal.

The five objections put forward by Dr Hoare were read out again one by one and each was systematically rejected as a reason to grant refusal by the council's solicitor Mike Horn.

Another vote was taken and the mast was approved with a majority of nine to three.

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