Last ditch bid to thwart wind farm plan

A GROUP of residents is making a desperate, last-ditch attempt to prevent the construction of Suffolk's first wind farm - because of alleged shortcomings by a local authority when it gave the go-ahead.

By David Green

A GROUP of residents is making a desperate, last-ditch attempt to prevent the construction of Suffolk's first wind farm - because of alleged shortcomings by a local authority when it gave the go-ahead.

A petition is being collected calling for a “reconsideration” by Suffolk Coastal District Council which granted planning permission for the Parham wind farm, near Framlingham, in October last year.

However, the council said legal advisers had declared the processes leading up to the decision were “sound”.

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It was disclosed yesterday that the formal notice of approval has still not been issued because of delays in drawing up the detail of conditions that will be imposed.

Your Energy, the company behind the scheme, said it was expecting to receive the notice by the end of this month and that work was due to start on erecting the six 100-metre high turbines in the autumn of this year.

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But local residents opposed to the project and living close by are now calling on Suffolk Coastal District Council to defer issuing the formal notice pending a reconsideration of the planning application.

The petition, signed by more than 70 people in Parham, Great Glemham and Marlesford, claims not enough weight was given to the long-term social, health, economic and environmental impact on those living near the site.

It also claims the environmental impact assessment is inadequate and that the district council's decision is likely to contravene human rights legislation.

“The decision taken by the planning authority to support an environmentally intrusive and highly marginal renewable energy scheme is pre-emptive, fails to recognise the latest evidence concerning the value of wind generation and does not take account the decision of the Government to publish a review of its energy policy in 2006,” the petition states.

A letter accompanying copies of the petition suggests that the impact on local residents had not been adequately represented by planning officers.

“Residents believe that in presenting the case to the members of the planning authority officers showed an unbalanced and disproportionate degree of support for this project…. and greatly underplayed the impact this scheme will have upon local people,” it states.

The letter requests that the petition forms should be returned to Malcolm MacNicol at North Green farm, Parham. Mr MacNicol said yesterday he did not want to comment at this stage. “We will be in touch with you once we've got it talked over,” he said.

Richard Mardon , managing director of Your Energy, said the company's understanding was that the district council could not legally reconsider the approval of planning permission.

“The only option open to opponents as we understand the situation would be for the High Court to order a judicial review.

“To succeed, the opponents would have to prove there had been some wrong doing and this is not the case. The district council has been very transparent in its consideration of the plans,” he said.

Mr Mardon said the company had been busy since October in carrying out survey work on the former airfield site, including a search for possible unexploded ordnance from World War II.

Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, said as a result of a potential legal challenge to the planning decision, the council had sought legal advice.

“The advice received is that the unanimous decision made last October to approve the application is sound and nothing has come to light to question the committee's original decision and therefore the planning approval can be issued,” he said.

Ayls Kindred, whose family owns the land earmarked for the wind farm, said: “We have received numerous letters and emails of local support since the planning decision in October and are confident that the planning application has been comprehensively and professionally handled by the district council.”

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