Controversial West Norfolk wind farm scheme wins council officials’ backing

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Controversial plans for a wind farm close to two villages should be approved if suitable environmental measures can be implemented, a council report says.

Many local residents, and the area’s MP, oppose the plan for the Ongarhill site, between Terrington St Clement and Clenchwarton, which will go before councillors next week.

But planning officials have recommended the scheme is approved, subject to a legal agreement for an ecological improvement plan being completed within three months.

They say the scheme should be turned down if no such agreement is reached.

Almost three years have now passed since Falck Renewables first submitted plans for 11 turbines to be built on lands to the east of Rhoon Road, Terrington St Clement.

Since then, the farm has been scaled back to nine turbines, which the applicants say would still be enough to provide electricity to the equivalent of nearly 10,000 homes.

But North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said it would only provide “minimal benefit” at a substantial environmental cost.

He said: “At a time when Norfolk is already hosting many hundreds of offshore wind turbines both in the Wash, along the coast, there really is not any justification at all for small clusters of onshore wind turbines.”

A report on the application, published in committee papers released on Friday, said a lack of opposition from technical consultees, plus conditions to mitigate concerns such as shadow flicker, meant the application could be allowed to proceed.

It went on: “The benefits associated with the scheme through the creation of renewable energy, and the support for such schemes in national policy, outweighs any harm caused by the proposal.”

And officers say they have learned lessons from previous schemes, particularly the Jack’s Lane and Chiplow developments near Stanhoe, which only went ahead after an unsuccessful legal challenge by objectors.

But the Norfolk Coast Partnership, who object to the proposals, argued a planning inspector’s decision to grant permission there should not be seen as a precedent.

Critics have also claimed that the plans would adversely affect wildlife, including migratory birds who spend their winters in the area. However, the RSPB has not objected.

Another key concern has been the impact on defence installations, such as radar systems at RAF Marham and low flight training areas.

But the report says the Ministry of Defence now does not object to the plans, subject to agreement on suitable mitigation measures.

In total, almost 200 letters of objection have been submitted by members of the public, while both the Clenchwarton and Terrington St Clement parish councils are against the scheme.

And Terrington resident Gerry Rider said: “The councillors were put there by the people and their interest should be for us, not the developers.”

However, almost 150 letters have also been submitted to the council in support of the plan.

The application will be debated during a meeting of the West Norfolk Council planning committee at Lynn town hall next Monday, February 2.