Residents prepare to fight wind turbines

A GROUP of residents is fighting plans to site East Anglia's biggest land-based wind farm in a sparsely populated village.The £20million project, involving the construction of up to ten 100-metre high turbines, is being drawn up for St James South Elmham, near Halesworth.

By David Green

A GROUP of residents is fighting plans to site East Anglia's biggest land-based wind farm in a sparsely populated village.

The £20million project, involving the construction of up to ten 100-metre high turbines, is being drawn up for St James South Elmham, near Halesworth.

If built, the turbines would be bigger than Big Ben, which stands at 316 feet, and dwarf the Orwell Bridge (150ft) and St Edmundsbury Cathedral Tower (currently 100ft).


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Plans are said to be at an early stage with local people now being consulted and no planning application is expected until late in the year.

But a group of residents is already protesting that the wind farm will have a detrimental impact on the landscape and could create a noise nuisance.

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Posters stating No Wind Farm Here have been pinned to posts and trees and a public meeting has been called for the village hall tonight .

Concern is also being expressed in nearby villages, including Linstead, Metfield, Rumburgh and Chediston, from where the proposed development will be seen and, residents fear, may also be heard.

However, the company behind the project, Saxon Windpower of Ipswich, denies there would be a noise problem from the turbines but admits that with the visual impact "People either love them or hate them".

Jane Bastow , one of the residents opposing the scheme, said local people were not anti-wind power but the site chosen was not suitable.

The turbines would be seen for miles around and could create a noise nuisance for the occupants of some homes, she said.

But opinion in the village, which has a population of 300, is split. One long-term resident, who asked not to be named, said many people had an open mind on the issue.

Bernard Crockford, chairman of the parish meeting , said cases could be made both for and against the wind farm plan.

But the sheer size of the proposed development had caused a great deal of shock in the village and some people had already voiced opposition.

"It is a very quiet area and people are certainly worried. The noisiest things we hear at the moment are the occasional aircraft going over, a tractor passing or a cockerel's call in the morning," he said.

Ian Booker, development manager for Saxon Windpower, said local consultations had only just started and it was by no means certain that a planning application would be submitted.

He claimed a consultation session for residents in St James had met with more positive feedback than negative responses.

"We have been looking at a number of sites and we consider this to be the best prospect at present," he said.

The criteria included good road access for the large turbine parts and proximity to the grid system for electricity generation.

Mr Booker said electricity lines connecting the turbines to the grid would go underground and there would be no noise nuisance as modern wind generators were "very quiet".

If ten turbines were erected they would generate enough electricity to supply 11,500 homes, he added.

The Government is encouraging the development of wind power, particularly off-shore, in order to reduce the UK's reliance on fossil fuels for electricity generation and reduce emissions of global warming gases.

However, on-shore proposals continue to meet with protests from local residents.

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