Appeal lodged against refusal of wind farm

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An energy firm has lodged an appeal to challenge a council’s decision to refuse plans for a controversial wind farm in West Norfolk.

Coriolis Energy has called on the government to overturn West Norfolk Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for nine wind turbines near Terrington St Clement and Clenchwarton.

But campaigners who fought the Ongar Hill proposal have vowed to continue their fight – and are hopeful a new government wind farm policy could halt it in its tracks.

The wind farm had been recommended for approval by the authority’s planning officers, but was rejected by councillors in February due to the impact on the landscape.

The proposed turbines, measuring up to 127m and taller than Norwich cathedral, had received local support – with 261 letters in favour of the project compared with 192 letters of objection.

Coriolis Energy lodged its appeal to the planning inspectorate on Monday, just days before a six-month deadline in which to submit one was reached.

A current delay in validating appeals means it may not start until around October, and it could then take up to 38 weeks for a final decision to be made.

Campaigner Gerry Rider, who lives in Terrington St Clement, hoped the planning inspectorate would be mindful of new government rules relating to new onshore wind farms and reject the appeal.

In June, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd announced the government was scrapping subsidies for all new onshore developments from next April. Stricter regulations on mast locations are also being imposed.

Ms Rider said: “The government is against any more onshore wind farms being built. Although this plan was in the pipeline before this was decided, I hope it will be enough grounds to say ‘no’. It’s the last chance of a fight we have.”

She also hoped North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham, who opposes the plan, and elected councillors would do all they could to help.

“Obviously myself and all the other people who are against it hope that Henry Bellingham, and all the councillors we voted for, will step up to the plate and help stop this from happening,” she said. “We’ve had this hanging over our heads for six months wondering whether there will be an appeal, and it’s now been lodged at the last minute.

“Now we have to wait again for a decision, wondering whether to stay or move away.”

Wind farm project manager Cath Ibbotson, from Coriolis Energy, said: “The council’s professional advisors recommended that the wind farm should be granted planning permission and so we were disappointed with the decision to refuse the application.

“We still consider that this is an excellent site for a wind farm and so we’ve asked for an independent planning inspector to review the case.

“We expect that there will be a public inquiry in the next few months which will thoroughly examine all the issues the council raised in its decision.”