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Wind turbine plans hailed as blueprint for the future

PUBLISHED: 09:00 13 August 2010 | UPDATED: 09:16 16 September 2010

AN eco-friendly proposal for wind turbines in two villages - with income from electricity sales ploughed back into the parish - has been hailed as a blueprint for the county's green future.

AN eco-friendly proposal for wind turbines in two villages - with income from electricity sales ploughed back into the parish - has been hailed as a blueprint for the county's green future.

The ground-breaking project was the brainchild of Cookpole Energy Action (CEA), a not-for-profit group made up of residents from Cookley and Walpole.

The villagers want to install two 18m turbines, costing a total of about £100,000. Together they are expected to generate an income or about £15,000 by feeding electricity into the national grid. That money would be invested into other eco-friendly projects within the parish, such as solar panels for the pavilion, a community woodland or electric bicycles for villagers to use.

The idea has been made possible because of changes in legislation which provide greater incentives for communities to invest in renewable energy technology and allow councils to sell electricity back to the grid.

Last night the project was hailed as a “blueprint for the future” by environment chiefs, who believe other communities could follow in Cookley and Walpole's footsteps as Suffolk moves forward with its “greenest county” initiative.

Judy Terry, portfolio holder for the greenest county at Suffolk County Council, said the income could support a village shop, or enable the creation of allotments or a bus scheme, adding: “I hope it could be a template for other villages.

“It's a fantastic idea and it is great to see them so enthused.”

The group is hoping to fund the project with grants and has identified three unspecified potential sites within the parish. Cookley & Walpole parish council supports the scheme in principle.

Chairman Simon Weeks said: “A lot of people were very sceptical at first - they said it might work well for the west coast of Scotland but it would be useless in East Anglia because the wind just isn't strong enough. However, we have found a maker and model developed in Denmark designed specifically for fairly low wind speeds.

“We're very excited about the scheme, we don't believe there is anything like it in the country, certainly not East Anglia.

“The reaction from the community has been pretty good. I think what people object to is not being able to see any benefit in their local community. However when we explain to them what we are trying to do - that the income will be invested into local projects - then they tend to react positively.”

He added: “There are one or two who are undecided and a few die hard sceptics but we want to be as open as possible and keep people informed. There will be plenty of opportunities for people to discuss the project. In fact we are organising a bus trip shortly for villagers who want to go and see the same turbine model in action locally.”

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