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Inquiry starts into windfarm plans

PUBLISHED: 10:47 23 September 2009 | UPDATED: 08:33 01 August 2010

A PLANNING inquiry to decide the fate of a windfarm planned for a site near Hempnall began yesterday.

However, even on the first day it attracted criticism from South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon.

A PLANNING inquiry to decide the fate of a windfarm planned for a site near Hempnall began yesterday.

However, even on the first day it attracted criticism from South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon.

Diss-based Enertrag UK was denied planning permission for seven 125m-high wind turbines at Hempnall last August by South Norfolk Council's south-west area planning committee, but later appealed the decision.

A two-week inquiry began hearing evidence yesterday to decide the outcome of that appeal.

The plan was initially rejected on the grounds that it would have an impact on the character of the area, would be detrimental to local listed buildings and Norwich airport and because road access to the area would be unsafe.

However, since the original decision the Highways Agency and Norwich airport have both withdrawn their objections.

Disagreement over whether or not the plans comply with local and national planning policies remains, as well as concerns over local bat populations.

Mr Bacon told the EDP during a break in the hearing that he would be speaking against the plans.

“I think developments like this are out of scale. They're industrial and they're alien to the landscape,” he said. “The council came to the right decision in the first place.”

He said the UK would need a range of renewable energy sources in the future, including wind turbines, but he would rather see masts built offshore where they are less visually obtrusive.

David Hardy, speaking on behalf of Enertrag UK, admitted that the turbines would alter the landscape in the area, but said that “change in itself is not unacceptable”.

During the initial planning decision the council received more than 600 letters of objection and 62 in support of the scheme.

According to Tina Douglass, speaking on behalf of anti-wind-turbine group Showt, more than half of the adult population of the village are members of the group.

“It's apparent that local concern outweighs acceptance,” she said.

Michael Windridge, local district councillor, has said that he will submit a formal complaint against Enertrag UK over claims that 21pc of the village were against the scheme. He claims that a Showt survey found 83pc of the village opposed the plans.

The inquiry continues today.

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