Wind farm objectors' fact-finding trip

By David GreenRESIDENTS concerned about plans for East Anglia's biggest land-based wind farm are to be given the chance to visit a similar development already in operation.

By David Green

RESIDENTS concerned about plans for East Anglia's biggest land-based wind farm are to be given the chance to visit a similar development already in operation.

The trip will be mainly aimed at demonstrating that modern wind farms do not create any mechanical noise.

A group of residents in St James South Elmham, near Halesworth, together with people from nearby villages, have launched a campaign to oppose plans to build up to 10 328ft high turbines on farmland.

The £20million project, which is not yet the subject of any planning application, would generate enough electricity to supply 11,500 homes.

But many residents are concerned about the impact on the landscape and the potential for a noise nuisance.

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The wind farm plan has been put forward by Saxon Windpower, a joint company formed by two renewable energy firms, Your Energy of Ipswich, and Tradewind Renewables of Wales.

Your Energy was founded two years ago by five of the 10 members of the renewable energy team at TXU in Ipswich.

Your Energy chairman, Bill Richmond, said yesterday residents with concerns about the project were to be invited to visit the existing wind farm in Outnewton, near Hull, which was built two years ago and comprises eight turbines, each 80 metres high.

The trip would take place at the end of this month and part of its aim would be to demonstrate that modern wind farms did not emit mechanical noise or any electrical hum.

“Rather than us blathering about it, the easiest thing is to take people to see a wind farm that is up and running,” said Mr Richmond.

“The only sound people will hear when they are close to the turbines is the swishing of the blades as they rotate - and that's it.”

Mr Richmond said he recognised some people had legitimate concerns and welcomed a debate over the project's merits, but he wanted to “nail the lie” of noise nuisance at an early stage.

“If I thought the proposed wind farm would be keeping people awake at night, I would not be able to sleep myself. I know there is no noise and I want to demonstrate this to people,” he added.

Further consultation meetings are to be held within the next few weeks in Linstead, Rumburgh, Metfield and Chediston, while a meeting might also be organised for Halesworth.

At the consultation session held in St James Village Hall, opinion was divided 50-50 over the scheme, but Mr Richmond hoped more people would be reassured as time went by.

Jane Bastow, spokeswoman for the protest group, Villagers Against Inappropriate Turbine Siting, said the proposed visit to Hull would have a limited uptake because many people, especially the elderly, would not be able to make such a long journey.

“The issue is about inappropriate siting in a beautiful part of the country and noise is only part of the problem,” she added.

Mrs Bastow is organising a lunch and stalls in her garden, between 11am and 3pm on September 14, to raise funds which will be split between the protest group and the village hall.