Little to fear from turbines

A RECENT report confirmed what we all knew – that Suffolk is lagging badly behind other counties in eastern England in terms of its onshore renewable energy quota.

How can this be for a county which purports to be aiming to be the “greenest” in the country?

Suffolk is certainly a beautiful county. But ask the residents of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Essex and Bedfordshire whether their landscapes are inferior and more suitable for wind turbines and you might get a strong reply.

Perhaps our neighbours are “different” in that they are reluctant to complain or do not have the intelligence to mount effective campaigns against unwelcome development? I do not think so.

In terms of wind power, the story nationwide – with a few exceptions - seems to suggest that although residents are jittery when plans for turbines are announced, once the development is up and running fears turn out to be unfounded. Ask the residents of Swaffham, Norfolk, whether they find the town’s two large turbines a nuisance. The second one was erected with hardly a murmer.

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Care must obviously be taken when siting turbines, especially in designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) and I firmly believe that joint ownership/benefit schemes should be forged between developers and local communities. But those who oppose any wind turbines in designated landscape areas also help create a deafening silence when it comes to plans for a Sizewell C nuclear power station – right in the middle of an AONB.

So there is no excuse. Local communities should take some responsibility for the electricity they use by being prepared to share in its generation, not lumbering the residents of just a few locations with the task. We all need to play a role in providing safe, clean energy which neither relies on the burning of carbon-emitting fossil fuels, nor leaves us and future generations with a dangerous legacy of radioactive waste.

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I suspect there is a lack of will at local authority level in Suffolk. Several good wind farm schemes, particularly on desolate former airfield sites, have been put forward but most have foundered in the face of NIMBY opposition co-ordinated by a few highly articulate and influential individuals.

The small wind farm at Holton Airfield - planned by Bernard Matthews Limited - has been given the go-ahead and I hope that, once erected, it will demonstrate that on-shore wind power has a role to play in creating a mix of energy sources to meet demand over the rest of the 21st century and beyond and will reassure a majority in Suffolk’s population that there is little to fear.

n MOTORISTS should continue to watch out for toads which are still crossing some of East Anglia’s roads in order to get to traditional breeding grounds during their annual migration. I have had reports of some of the creatures being squashed at Dallinghoo - despite the efforts of a group of local people to keep casualties to a minimum.

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