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Shipdham wind turbine inquiry opens

PUBLISHED: 15:05 09 December 2008 | UPDATED: 14:51 07 July 2010

Emma Knights

The latest twist in a seven year saga about controversial plans for a wind farm near Shipdham began today.

A third inquiry into energy firm Ecotricity's proposals to build two 100m high turbines on land near Wood Farm started at Breckland Council's headquarters in Dereham.

The latest twist in a seven year saga about controversial plans for a wind farm near Shipdham began today.

A third inquiry into energy firm Ecotricity's proposals to build two 100m high turbines on land near Wood Farm started at Breckland Council's headquarters in Dereham.

The inquiry is expected to last seven days, after which Ruth MacKenzie from the Planning Inspectorate will retire to make her decision on the plans.

The ongoing saga began in 2001 when Ecotricity applied to build three turbines with 100m high towers on land near Wood Farm.

Scaled back plans for two wind turbines were rejected by planners in 2002 and 2003. Ecotricity appealed the ruling and was given the go ahead for the turbines in June 2006, a decision then overthrown in the High Court after a challenge by campaigners.

Groups against the plans are Campaign Against Turbines at Shipdham and Scarning (CATSS) and Residents of Daffy Green (RODG). Challenge Against Nimbyism in Shipdham (CANIS) are for the plans.

In his opening statement David Forsdick, for RODG, said: “This is a proposal for two very large turbines in a very quiet area within 430m of the nearest noise sensitive properties.

“That is much closer to residential units than has hitherto been permitted in such quiet areas: 430m to 500m is in turbine terms, very close.

“In very large turbine terms we think it is unprecedented for such a quiet setting.

“The inspector, is not as far as we are aware, pointed to any similar location in which wind farms have been permitted/developed and provided without significant noise problems.”

He said there had been a “multitude of errors” in noise evidence supplied by Ecotricity and that the local “noise environment” would be “significantly harmed.”

John Campbell, representing CATSS, said the group had consistently opposed the wind turbine plans for six-and-a-half years. He said in the inquiry the group would support the evidence of RODG and raise questions about access to the site and the visual impact on the landscape.

Marcus Trinick, for Ecotricity, told the inquiry that Norwich International Airport no longer objected to the proposed development, and he said care needed to be taken when considering all of the noise evidence.

“The vast number of individual points and arguments before you on this technical topic have in my view the potential to obscure some fundamental, and for RODG, inconvenient truths,” he said.

Breckland Council said it would not take a leading role in the inquiry because its refusal of planning permission had been on the grounds of aircraft safety, and now it has no other reason for refusing the application.

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