Public inquiry for wind turbine bid near Beccles

A FORMAL inquiry is to take place on a controversial plan to build wind turbines on a farm near Beccles.

A public hearing was due to take place later this month on a bid from Stamford Renewables to build wind turbines at Laurels Farm in Barsham, but it has now been announced that an inquiry will take place.

This means that there will be a more complex investigation into the bid by the Planning Inspectorate, with Waveney District Council, Stamford Renewables and resident opposition group HALT all formally represented.

Mike Stamford, chief executive of Stamford Renewables, called the decision a “scandalous waste of both public and private money”.

He outlined the nation’s need for jobs and energy security and said that his company was doing its utmost to provide both from private investment.

He said: “I encourage readers to cut this article out and keep it, so that when the energy crisis hits us in 2016 they will know exactly who to blame for their power cuts.”

The company initially had an application for nine wind turbines across three farms turned down by Waveney District Council in October 2010, but it appealed the decision for three at Laurels Farm, in Barsham.

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Its latest proposals are to reduce the number of wind turbines to two and the power generators to 2MW.

A residents’ group was formed to fight the plans and had been calling for the public inquiry.

Philip Johnson, of the group, said: “HALT welcomes the inspectorate’s decision – we have from the outset argued that the size of this proposed infrastructure project and the level of public interest merits a full inquiry.”

Mr Johnson said the group was looking forward to building a strong case to defeat the appeal.

Waveney District Council will also be represented at the hearing and welcomed the move.

A council spokesman said: “The Planning Inspectorate has decided, having reviewed the evidence, that a more formal local inquiry must now take place to consider the matter and a new date must now be set.

“Although this delay will prolong the uncertainty for all concerned, it is the council’s view that an inquiry is the right way to address the matter, as we expressed to the Planning Inspectorate some months ago.”

A pre-inquiry meeting will take place at 10am on Tuesday, February 28 at Beccles Public Hall.

At that meeting there will be no discussion of the merits of the case, instead the inspector will hear whether the revised scheme of two turbines should be accepted and form the basis for the inquiry, and then clarify procedural arrangements.

This will be then adjourned with a date for the inquiry finalised later.