Shipdham windfarm fight goes on

An energy firm has vowed to continue its seven-year battle to create a windfarm in mid Norfolk, despite having its latest appeal thrown out by a government inspector.

An energy firm has vowed to continue its seven-year battle to create a windfarm in mid Norfolk, despite having its latest appeal thrown out by a government inspector.

Ecotricity wants to build two 100m turbines on land near Wood Farm, Shipdham, and the proposals have so far resulted in a long and bitter saga which has divided local residents.

After a third public inquiry in December, Ruth MacKenzie, from the Planning Inspectorate, has dismissed Ecotricity's appeal.

But the company has said it intended to put in a fresh planning application.

In her report, Ms MacKenzie said while there were green benefits to the wind turbines and no harmful impact on the surrounding landscape, the scheme would have a 'materially adverse effect' on living conditions at nearby homes. She said there was no single thing that made the proposal unacceptable but rather an accumulation of several factors such as the turbines being too close to homes, the tranquillity of this very quiet area of countryside and issues about noise levels.

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said: 'I think the appeal decision is an interesting and unexpected turn of events but we have read the decision carefully and we think that the inspector has laid out for us very clearly what needs to be resolved about this application in order for it to succeed so we are now back to the drawing board. We are confident we can accommodate all of the inspector's concerns with a redesign of the layout.

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'We intend to submit a fresh planning application to Breckland Council based on a new layout. The reasons for the refusal will be accommodated in the new design. We are very upbeat and very positive about this.'

He added: 'All of the reasons for refusal were around debates over noise. We will create a layout where there is no debate about noise. The project has been tried and tested in every other issue for seven years and the only thing that has been found wanting is the noise so we are confident we will be successful.'

Two groups of nearby residents - Campaign Against Turbines At Shipdham and Scarning (CATSS) and Residents of Daffy Green (RODG) - had been delighted to hear about the appeal dismissal but were disappointed at Ecotricity's plans to submit a fresh application to Breckland.

Nick Hoare, of RODG, said: 'We recognise that Ecotricity are disappointed with this result but we feel sure that when they have read the decision letter carefully and reflected on the inspector's comments, they will realise that turbine noise will be a problem however they revise the turbine layout on that site.

'There is insufficient land to achieve a decent separation between turbines and dwellings. Persisting with their aspirations for a windfarm at that site in Shipdham is an absurd waste of council time and public money. We expect they will recognise that public support for their company will leach away if they continue to harass local people with years of non-stop windfarm applications.'

Brian Kidd, chairman of CATSS, said: 'We and our colleagues in RODG together will continue the fight. After seven years it is bordering on outrageous that a developer should still persist in this way.'

But Geoff Hinchliffe, founder of Challenge Against Nimbyism in Shipdham (CANIS), was delighted that Ecotricity planned to press on with submitting a fresh application for the turbines.

With regard to the appeal dismissal, he said: 'It is extremely disappointing that local nimbyism has prevailed at a time when research published by the UK Met Office's Hadley Centre predicts only a 50-50 chance of keeping temperature rises below the disaster threshold. How can people be so blinkered?'