Shipdham wind turbine inquiry ends

Emma Knights Rival campaign groups spoke out about controversial plans for a wind farm near Shipdham today, as the third public inquiry in the seven year saga drew to a close.

Emma Knights

Rival campaign groups spoke out about controversial plans for a wind farm near Shipdham today, as the third public inquiry in the seven year saga drew to a close.

The inquiry was looking into energy firm Ecotricity's proposals to build two 100m high turbines on land near Wood Farm.

Geoff Hinchliffe, founder of Challenge Against Nimbyism in Shipdham (CANIS), said: “Only the most blinkered would deny that there is a rapidly growing global energy crisis.

“The need for alternative and renewable energy sources is undeniable.”

He said there was no good reason why the appeal should not be allowed, adding that there were about 20 active supporters of CANIS with many more sharing the same view. He said in 2004 Breckland Council received 325 letters supporting the turbine proposal.

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But Brian Kidd, chairman of Campaign Against Turbines at Shipdham and Scarning (CATSS), said nearly all of the people living on the north side of Shipdham were opposed to the development which would be too close to residential properties.

He said permission for the development should be refused to protect the quality of rural life, and said CATSS was convinced the construction and use of the turbines would “irreparably” damage the local area in exchange for a “meagre and unreliable” amount of electricity.

David Hill, chairman of Shipdham Parish Council, spoke of concerns about access problems during the turbines' construction and the adverse effects the turbines would have on the rural countryside and landscape. He was also concerned about how the turbines would affect his farming business.

Alan Shaw, a retired electrical engineer with 40 years of experience, from Aylsham, said Norfolk had a relatively low wind speed compared to the rest of the UK and that there was “no justification for installing two turbines in the Shipdham area.”

Dr Adrian Caro, a retired GP living in Bradenham, near Shipdham, expressed concerns about the visual dominance of the turbines and said Ecotricity had not ensured they would be as visually unobtrusive as possible.

This third inquiry is the latest twist in a saga which dates back to 2001 when Ecotricity applied to build three turbines on land near Wood Farm. Scaled back plans for two were rejected by planners in 2002 and 2003. Ecotricity appealed the ruling and was given the go ahead for the in June 2006, a decision then overthrown in the High Court after a challenge by campaigners.

The latest inquiry was due to finish on Wednesday, but it was instead drawn to a close today. Tomorrow Ruth MacKenzie from the Planning Inspectorate will visit the proposed site and surrounding area.

Closing statements from Marcus Trinick, representing Ecotricity, and John Campbell, representing CATSS, will be submitted to Ms MacKenzie by January 2 and available to view at Breckland Council's Dereham office by early January.

Ms MacKenzie will submit her findings to the Planning Inspectorate headquarters during the third week in January, and the decision will be available to the public by early February.

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