Suffolk: Wind turbines plan is cut back in wake of outcry

Communications giant BT has announced plans to scale down its wind turbine development proposed for a picturesque Suffolk town.

Last year the company announced it wanted to build a six-turbine facility in Clare, near Sudbury, as part of its Wind For Change Programme – aimed at meeting a quarter of its energy needs through turbines on land by 2016.

Residents and MPs, including Tim Yeo and Matthew Hancock, whose South Suffolk and West Suffolk constituencies border the site, were quick to voice their opposition to the plans at public meetings held shortly after the announcement.

But yesterday BT chiefs said they were now intending to place three 100-metre-high turbines at Ley’s Farm, south of Chilton Street and to the north of the A1092, between Stoke by Clare and Clare.

Tim Martin, head of BT’s partnership development, said: “We had a great deal of constructive dialogue with people in the area and very much appreciated the response we received.

“Extensive on-site assessments and feedback from consultees has resulted in us reassessing the design of the site and we are progressing towards a new layout which will reflect a reduction in the number of turbines.”

Mr Martin, who will meet Clare Parish Council next week to discuss the revised plans, said the three turbines would create enough energy to power almost 4,000 homes.

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BT was keen to explore opportunities in which the local community could share ownership of the turbines.

“We are also looking at BT staff volunteering with local charities, community projects and educational support for local schools,” he added.

Despite halving the number of turbines, Paul Duningham, chairman of Stop the Turbines Over Clare (STOC) group, said nothing had changed.

“Three is better but they are still far too close to housing,” he said. “This land was offered to BT and they have taken advantage of that because it is close to the national network. We are not against wind turbines, but for BT this is a cheap solution and only driven by money.”

BT will be distributing leaflets to households in the area over the next week and will be holding an open day in Clare to discuss its latest plans at a date to be confirmed next month.

The company is hoping to submit its application to St Edmundsbury Borough Council by early summer.

Clare Parish Council chairman Keith Haisman said the council would not give its opinion on the turbines until everyone was fully informed of the plans.

“We are hoping to hear from as many people as possible so we can gauge the general consensus on this very important issue,” he said. “As a council we need to make an informed and balanced decision before the application comes up.”

Anyone wanting to voice their comments to the parish council can submit them at clarewindfarmopinion@hotmail.co.uk.

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