A controversial wind farm proposed near two West Norfolk villages would cause “huge” damage to the surrounding countryside, a public inquiry has heard today.
A government planning inspector is currently considering whether to allow planning permission for nine turbines at the Ongar Hill site, close to Terrington St Clement and Clenchwarton.
And developers have maintained there would be no significant environmental harm caused by the project.
But North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham rejected that argument when he addressed the hearing, which is taking place at the Knights Hill Hotel, this morning.
He acknowledged there were benefits from the proposal, but maintained these were far outweighed by the harm that would be caused to the landscape.
He said: “We have the chance to retain a unique piece of paradise for future generations and if we don’t take that chance, I don’t think they will forgive us.”
However, in documents setting out their grounds for appeal, lawyers acting for the developer, Falck Renewables Ltd, insisted the development would not cause unacceptable harm to the area.
They added: “The development has been designed to avoid or minimise loss of habitat, together with impacts on protected species and species of conservation importance.
“The assessment undertaken on behalf of the appellant concluded there will be no significant residual effects on any ornithological or other ecological features of interest.”
Although a wind farm has been proposed in the area for several years, the current application was only turned down by West Norfolk Council in February 2015.
The decision followed a long campaign by local residents, many of whom are concerned about the potential impact of the scheme on the area, including health implications for people with pre-existing conditions.
Sir Henry argued that new legislation, which ended subsidies for on-shore wind schemes and gave local communties a greater say on such schemes, should be taken into account.
He also highlighted the large numbers of off-shore turbines now operating off the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coasts and claimed the number of turbines being proposed are far more easily accommodated at sea than on land.
He said: “Putting another nine turbines offshore will make very little difference but, on-shore, will do a huge amount of damage.”
But the developers say: “The objective of government policy remains to encourage deployment and application of renewable energy technologies throughout the United Kingdom, consistent with the achievement of sustainable patterns of development and international obligations on climate change.”
They also claimed there would be no significantly negative noise effects from the scheme.
But Sir Henry added that he was already dealing with constituents’ concerns about noise generated by other wind farms which are already operating across the borough.
The inquiry hearing is set to conclude tomorrow.