Controversial wind farm plan ditched

EXCLUSIVEBy David GreenA PLAN for a £20million wind farm has been abandoned following a vociferous campaign by a group of residents.Saxon Windpower revealed last night it would not be proceeding with a proposal to build up to 10 100-metre high turbines at St James South Elmham, near Halesworth.

EXCLUSIVE

By David Green

A PLAN for a £20million wind farm has been abandoned following a vociferous campaign by a group of residents.

Saxon Windpower revealed last night it would not be proceeding with a proposal to build up to 10 100-metre high turbines at St James South Elmham, near Halesworth.

While opposition to the project had been strongly expressed, the crucial factor in the firm's decision was the withdrawal from the project of landowner, Andrew Hadingham.

Mr Hadingham, who had been looking at the wind farm as a diversification, confirmed last night his decision had been the result of public opinion.

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“However, I believe the only valid issue was one of visual impact and that claims of noise and other problems could not be substantiated,” he said.

The announcement that the project was being abandoned came as another village voted against the wind farm proposal.

All 250 people on the electoral roll at Rumburgh were given the chance to vote on the issue and 82% responded.

Of those, 56% said they were against the project, with 34% in favour and 10% declaring themselves as “don't knows”.

A similar vote in the combined villages of Chediston and Linstead has already resulted in a 72% vote against the wind farm plan.

Bill Richmond, a director of Ipswich-based Saxon Windpower, said last night he was disappointed the project could not proceed, but felt the hostility encountered had created a “negative environment”.

He added: “The backlash against our proposal was felt by the landowner and it has led to his decision to withdraw. We have agreed to shake hands and part on good terms.

“We tried to consult the local community at the earliest stage in the planning process, but the response at St James will only encourage potential developers to keep quiet for longer.”

Mr Richmond said the firm would be keeping a close look at public opinion in the area, which he claimed was the “best wind power site in Suffolk” and known to be attracting interest from other companies.

He also expressed satisfaction one-third of the Rumburgh electorate had voted in favour of the St James South Elmham wind farm plan, even before detailed proposal had been laid before them.

Saxon Windpower is already drawing up plans for wind farms in Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Somerset - and is expected tomorrow to announce a proposal for another site in Suffolk.

Jane Bastow, spokeswoman for the protest group Villagers Against Inappropriate Turbine Siting, said the abandonment of the St James South Elmham wind farm plan was “wonderful news”.

She added: “It is the best Christmas present all the villages around here could have wished for.”

But Professor Martin Wolfe, spokesman for the pro-wind power group, the High Suffolk Renewable Energy Co-operative, said he was disappointed to learn of the decision.

“We shall be looking at any other possibilities coming up in the locality,” he added.

John Sanderson, who farms nearby and supported the St James South Elmham wind farm plan, said it was only a matter of time before turbines came to the area.

“It is a very suitable site and is undoubtedly attracting other companies. There will be other sites and what we are interested in is making sure the whole community benefits from the development when it comes,” he added.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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