Windfarm bid rejected

PLANNING bosses have effectively pulled the plug on Suffolk's first onshore windfarm after rejecting the developer's latest attempt to get the controversial project the green light.

Craig Robinson

PLANNING bosses have effectively pulled the plug on Suffolk's first onshore windfarm after rejecting the developer's latest attempt to get the controversial project the green light.

Your Energy Ltd had hoped to build six 100 metre high wind turbines at Parham Airfield, near Framlingham.

But the proposals were dealt a major blow yesterday when Suffolk Coastal District Council rejected the latest attempt to meet all the original conditions.

The setback has highlighted the problem of getting the go-ahead for windfarms in rural areas, a leading industry body said last night.

The development - which was given conditional permission in July 2006 despite strong opposition from local villagers - would also have included part of a 310 hectare farm in the parishes of Parham, Great Glemham and Marlesford.

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Planning officers changed their original recommendation because Your Energy failed to address a number of issues, including concerns over the construction of the foundations and the safe delivery of turbine blades.

The company has until July 6 to start building on the site - otherwise they will have to reapply for planning permission.

But nothing can be done until it is given the final green light - meaning the project, which is claimed would generate enough electricity to power 3,000 homes, has been thrown into jeopardy.

Ivan Jowers, chairman of Suffolk Coastal's North Area Development Control Sub-Committee, said: “We had little choice but to reject the proposed construction plan for the wind farm as the applicants failed to satisfy the requirements we originally imposed to protect highway safety, visual amenity and the local environment.

“I am disappointed they not only left it until nearly the very last minute to submit their details, but that on closer inspection they had failed to meet our conditions. The details presented to this council were inadequate and incomplete.

“This council has spent a great deal of time and effort in dealing with these proposals but has now had to pull the plug on what we thought would have been a useful source of alternative energy.”

The decision to reject the plans has been welcomed by members of the local community who were against the development.

Dr John Constable, chairman of No Windfarm At Parham (NOWAP), said: “We are pleased with what seems to be a sensible outcome for everybody. The ball is now in the developer's court and we will wait to see what happens.”

Colin Hart, Suffolk Coastal district councillor whose Hacheston ward includes Parham and surrounding villages, said: “This is an excellent result.”

But last night a spokesman for the British Wind Energy Association said the set back highlighted how difficult it was to get the go-ahead for windfarms.

“We're not asking for planning regulations to be eased or relaxed - we have never wanted that,” he said. That's not the right approach because we have to work within the planning system.

“But what we do ask is for windfarm applications to be judged fairly. Too often they languish in the planning stages. On average its takes a windfarm application 24 months to go through the system - for other developments it's four. They are seen as political hot potatoes and councillors don't want to alienate voters.”

Your Energy Ltd declined to comment last night.