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Cookley: Wind turbine project is given go-ahead

PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 February 2012 | UPDATED: 09:14 03 February 2012

The village of Cookley, near Halesworth, where plans have been approved for a wind turbine

The village of Cookley, near Halesworth, where plans have been approved for a wind turbine

AN innovative eco-friendly project that will see profits from the sale of electricity generated by a wind turbine ploughed back into the community has taken a giant step forward.

Suffolk Coastal District Council has given the green light to a proposal put forward by Cookpole Energy Action (CEA).

The not for profit organisation, made up of residents from Cookley and Walpole, near Halesworth, has been granted permission to install a wind turbine at Rockstone Manor Farm in Cookley.

The 11Kw Gaia (133) wind turbine, which would be 24.8m tall, is expected to cost around £50,000 and the electricity generated – estimated to be about 20,000Kw hours a year – would be fed into the national grid.

CEA members hope this will result in an annual profit of around £5,000 which will be invested into other eco-friendly projects within the parish.

Chairman Simon Weeks said they were delighted to be given the go-ahead.

“We were optimistic because we knew we had done our research pretty thoroughly,” he said. “We spent quite a bit in advance on a biodiversity survey to check that there was no rare species of bats or birds that would be affected.

“We also commissioned a noise survey on our sites and as a result of that we withdrew our proposals at Hill House Farm. We also put up test masts to measure wind speed and see what the impact would be in terms of the landscape.

“The site at Rockstone Manor Farm is in a shallow valley so the visual impact is not as great as it could be elsewhere. The community benefits will outweigh the visual impact but there will be people who think the opposite. It boils down to the fact that you either like wind turbines or you don’t.

“The project should create enough electricity to save 10 tonnes of carbon and generate around £5,000 profit a year. For villages the size of Cookley and Walpole that’s a substantial sum.”

Mr Weeks said they would now be applying to Suffolk’s Greenest County fund in the hope of securing a grant for 50% of the total cost of the project.

He said if that could be achieved then they would be able to approach a number of energy companies that have charitable funds to help pay for the rest.

The application was not without opposition, with the parish council and residents raising a number of concerns. Some 44 villagers in Cookley also signed a petition against the plans.

It was felt that the benefits of the turbine did not outweigh the visual impact upon the landscape, while doubts were also raised that the financial distribution within the community would be fair.

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