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Eye: Wind turbines rejected over bat concerns

PUBLISHED: 09:00 01 September 2012

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AN APPLICATION for three wind turbines has been rejected amid fears over the impact they could have on a colony of bats.

Mid Suffolk District Council officers had recommended the application for the wind turbines in Kings Farm, Cranley Road, Eye for approval.

But the chairman of the planning referrals committee, councillor Stuart Gemmill said the council had decided to change the application’s recommendation to refusal, after there were concerns that an ecological survey had not been carried out and there were worries about the effect the turbines could have on a bat colony. The joint owner of Kings Farm, Sheila Havers, said she only found out about the council’s change of position when she arrived at the meeting.

She said: “I think it’s bad that something is going for recommendation and then I find out it is going to be refused – they can change their minds like that.”

Mrs Havers said she thought the plans had gone to the referrals committee because of concerns, which were later quashed, that noise from the turbines could affect dogs at the boarding kennels business at the farm.

“They were going to discuss the kennels but by the time I had got there it was the bat issue. I have never been to a council meeting before and I can understand why.” Mr Gemmill, district councillor for Stradbroke and Laxfield said he had proposed to defer the plans at the meeting to allow time for the ecological survey to be carried out.

He said: “I think the concern, historically is that there was a colony of bats in the area that could be in the perimeter of the wind turbines so they needed a survey done.”

But Mrs Havers said that although there had been a colony of bats on the 250-acre farm a few years ago they had now disappeared.

The second reason the committee gave for rejecting the wind turbines, which would be nearly 18 metres tall, was because of their concern over the visual impact the turbines would have on the countryside.

“Members are concerned about the number of wind turbines,” said Mr Gemmill.

“We keep getting applications for them coming in every week. I think they are difficult applications to make a decision on – there are so many. I think a lot of people are not very keen on them – but you need to provide reasons to turn them down.”

Fifteen applications for wind turbines in the Eye area and the nearby parishes of Occold, Redlingfield and Denham have been submitted to the council in the past two years.

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