A RESIDENTS group formed to fight plans for a wind turbine development on land near Beccles is calling for a public inquiry.

Renewable energy company Stamford Renewables has lodged an appeal against the decision by Waveney District Council to refuse a wind turbine development at Laurels Farm, Barsham, last October.

It has requested that the appeal be dealt with by written representations, a move it says will save costs, time and tax-payers’ money.

But Philip Johnson, from residents’ group HALT, is calling for a public inquiry.

He said: “In our view this is a wholly inappropriate method of dealing with this appeal.

“This wind farm development, if built, would have a massive impact on local residents and our landscape.

“For this reason, we believe that this warrants the full transparency of a public inquiry where everything is out in the open rather than being decided upon behind closed doors.

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“We have instructed our lawyers to contact the Planning Inspectorate pointing out that settling this matter just by written representation and out of the public arena appears to be a clear breach of their own guidelines.”

Mike Stamford, chief executive of Stamford Renewables, confirmed that it had lodged an appeal.

He said: “We have been successful, between December 2010 and May 2011, in commissioning five separate consultants reports neutralising the five grounds for refusal raised by the development control committee on October 25, 2010 and have scientifically demonstrated that the impacts of the development are not significant enough to warrant refusal.

“We have listened carefully to the views of the local community, especially the 25 per cent of residents living within 1.5 km of Laurels Farm who wrote in and objected in 2010.

“All their points have now been addressed. The impacts of the proposals have been further mitigated by reducing the number of turbines from three to two. No stone has been left un-turned and we have been utterly transparent with all our reports and actions.”

He said it was irresponsible to call for an “expensive and time-consuming” public inquiry and added: “We need to be focusing on developing industries like the renewables industry to create jobs and economic growth for the people of Waveney.

“The energy crisis looms in 2015 and we need to be building one large turbine every day between now and 2020 to get any where near achieving our legally binding targets. We have opted to appeal by the written representations route to save costs, time and tax-payers’ money. HALT need to get real about the economic hardships of the current world we live in. How many of the members of HALT will volunteer to be without electricity in 2015 for the good of the rest of the country?”

Plans for the wind turbine development have proved controversial and last October more than 100 people attended an extraordinary meeting of Waveney District Council’s development control committee at Beccles Public Hall to hear a decision on the plans.

At that time Stamford Renewables was seeking planning permission to build three groups of three turbines at Devonshire Farm and Granary Farm, in Ringsfield, and Laurels Farm, Barsham. After a lengthy meeting all three applications were refused.