Wind farm bid divides MPs

THE county's MPs are divided over plans to site a wind farm on an airfield in Suffolk, it has emerged.Proposals for six 101m wind turbines at Parham airfield, near Framlingham, have caused a storm of controversy.

By Sarah Chambers

THE county's MPs are divided over plans to site a wind farm on an airfield in Suffolk, it has emerged.

Proposals for six 101m wind turbines at Parham airfield, near Framlingham, have caused a storm of controversy.

Yesterday, Conservatives Sir Michael Lord, the local MP for the area, and John Gummer, who represents the neighbouring Suffolk Coastal seat, both hit out at the plans, while Ipswich's Labour MP Chris Mole strongly backs the proposals.

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Ipswich-based Saxon Windpower, which is behind the plan, and is currently carrying out an environmental impact assessment of the site.

Mr Lord, MP for Central Suffolk, and North Ipswich, stressed he was "very much in favour" of renewable energy, such as biofuels, but was against the Parham proposals.

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"I think the adverse effect on the environment outweighs the benefits produced," he said.

"I do believe that the plans, size, scale and impact on the community of the proposed operation in Parham do not justify the electricity produced."

He felt the turbines would have a "big effect" on the countryside, both in terms of visual impact and noise.

"They certainly change the landscape completely," he said. "I find it very hard to stomach to be honest."

Mr Gummer felt wind farms were ugly and that the site was not suitable.

"My own view is it's an entirely unsuitable place to build a wind farm," said Mr Gummer. "Putting them in prominent positions where you would not allow any other buildings seems to me a very curious view."

He pointed out that wind energy was not constant, and urged the development of other alternative energy sources such as fuel cell technology, and work on reducing energy consumption.

"We can produce all the energy reductions we need just by using less energy."

He also felt that the industry should be concentrating on developing off-shore sites.

"We can't destroy the countryside simply because we could not think of an alternative to ugly, noisy and bird-destroying wind farms," he said.

But Mr Mole said different forms of renewable energy should all be supported.

"Wind energy must be an essential component of our future electricity generation in order to drive down the contribution of carbon fuels to global warming. We must rapidly expand sustainable energy sources," he said. "There are a whole range of measures, and they all have to be pursued."

People must weigh up the idea of wind farms against more nuclear power stations, he said.

"I can't see any reason why anyone would object to a wind farm at Parham, I really don't," he said. "I fear the people who object to them are the worst form of Nimbys."

He said there was an argument about the distance turbines stood from neighbouring properties which was a question for planners.

"I think they are beautiful frankly. I think they look graceful on the skyline," he said.

Country Life magazine has drawn up a list of ten beauty spots under threat from wind turbines, including the one planned for Parham.

Clive Aslet, Country Life's editor said: "This makes frightening reading as it shows how so many superb landscapes are at risk from the government's intended policy.

"These are some of the most beautiful and historic spots in Britain, which will be blighted by 350 foot turbines which can be seen from tens of miles away. If even a small fraction of the many hundreds of proposals and applications for land-based wind farms are granted, our diverse and beautiful landscapes, which delight thousands of visitors each year, will be peppered with monstrous, swirling Catherine wheels.

"Our petition, launched on the April 1 has already gathered huge support from people all over the country, who share our strength of feeling."

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