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POLL: Storm brewing as Unity Wind Ltd register planning application for community wind turbine on edge of North Walsham

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 May 2012 | UPDATED: 14:43 10 May 2012

Archant

A planning application for an edge-of-town wind turbine, more than four times the height of North Walsham's most prominent landmark, looks set to blow up a storm.

Supporters say the turbine will help North Walsham play its part in the vital global need to produce clean, green energy, bring profits for community shareholders and help fill the coffers of worthy local causes.

But the formal application now lodged with North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) has unleashed a hurricane of opposition from a group which is calling for a public meeting and urgently wants to raise awareness of a structure members say will blight North Walsham and which could be seen from Norwich on a clear day.

The North Walsham structure would be about 10m taller than the Ecotech turbine at Swaffham.

Applicants Unity Wind Ltd want to site a three-bladed turbine with a tip height of up to 120m (nearly 394ft) on Grammar School Farm land east of Cromer Road, with the nearest building being the Norstead Hall Kennels.

Arguments for and against wind turbine plan

Alicia Hull, secretary of wind-turbine applicants Unity Wind Ltd, believes residents should support the scheme because:

● Climate change is a real and urgent threat and wind power is the only renewable resource sufficiently developed for immediate use.

● The UK has a particularly good wind resource and the chosen site is windy.

● Wind is a benign source of energy and doesn’t cause pollution.

● Onshore turbines are more efficient and less expensive to install, operate and maintain than offshore.

● Through community schemes people can do something positive for the climate and for the local economy.

● A community scheme would mean people could control the scale of the development, and need not fear being swamped by turbines.

● The scheme would see Unity Wind plough £10,000pa into community projects.

Ian Harvey and a group of fellow North Walsham residents oppose the project because they believe;

● The turbine, at 120m tip height (nearly 394ft) would be huge and intrusive for people and wildlife; far taller than any existing structure in the area and the blades would turn in a circle with a diameter of about 82m (270ft).

● It would be noisy and about 60pc of the time the prevailing wind direction would mean the sound would wash across the town.

● There would not be enough wind to make the project viable.

● Public consultation has been ineffective and too many local people are unaware of the scheme and its implications.

● People already pay for renewable energy through hidden green taxes on their fuel bills.

● The documentation supporting the application contains a number of misleading and inaccurate statements.

● It would devalue local property prices,

The German-made Enercon E82 structure would dwarf North Walsham’s ruined St Nicholas’ Church tower which measures about 27m (90ft).

Unity Wind, a not-for-profit industrial and provident society, says the turbine, with a 25-year lifespan, would have a generating capacity of 2.3mw; enough to power 1,200 homes.

Secretary Alicia Hull said a raft of legally-required, professional and rigorous surveys had been carried out and while it was accepted that the scheme could have some landscape and visual drawbacks, they would not outweigh the benefits the turbine would produce.

She is appealing for people to register their backing for the scheme with NNDC and said if the plan was approved, she would be urging supporters to invest between £1 and £20,000 in the project, estimated to cost about £3.25m.

But Ian and Janet Harvey, who live off North Walsham’s Happisburgh Road, and residents who live close to the turbine site: Bill and Brenda Hammond, of Lyngate Road, and Trevor Reynolds, of Wilds Farm, Antingham, are fiercely opposed to the scheme.

“Most people will assume it’s one of those little wind turbines you see on farm roads which have no affect on anyone. I don’t think anyone realises the monstrous size and impact of this,” said Mr Harvey.

The group, in turn, is appealing for opponents to register their concerns with NNDC.

They have also asked North Walsham Town Council to call a public meeting about the plan and said they would be putting fliers through letter-boxes throughout the town with a scale drawing of the turbine and its surroundings on one side and a ready-drafted letter of objection to the plan on the other.

● The consultation period is due to end on May 23. On-line comments for or against the plan can be made on NNDC’s website after following links to application number PF/12/0391, emailed to: planning@north-norfolk.gov.uk or posted to Planning Section, North Norfolk District Council, Council Offices, Holt Road, Cromer, NR27 9EN.

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