TOWN UPSET BY PLANS FOR 6 MORE TURBINES

SWAFFHAM'S "love affair" with wind turbines could be stretched to breaking point by green energy firm Ecotricity's plan to build six more on the town's outskirts.

The town has been generally supportive of the two giant turbines standing either side of its A47 bypass and forming a landmark gateway to West Norfolk.

But when the latest plan to build six more of the same size on the Sporle side of the bypass, next to the one put up in 2003 at the request of Swaffham residents, was discussed at the last town council meeting councillors decided enough was enough.

They are opposing the plan because of its potential noise, flicker effect and visual impact on the surrounding landscape – and looking to formulate a policy on future wind turbine applications.

Councillor Terry Jennison, who can see both the Swaffham turbines from her home at Tumbler Hill, said: "We will be turning into a turbine ghetto if Breckland Council allows this application."

She predicted further turbine applications locally because of all the talk about global warming, and said the cumulative effect could be overbearing on a small town like Swaffham. "We can't carry any more of these turbines," she said.

Councillor Pam Buxton said: "I love the two we have got at the moment but I thought to have six more was a bit too much. I think it would intrude."

She pointed out that nearby North Pickenham's eight wind turbines could be seen from Swaffham and any more would dominate the skyline.

Councillor Ian Sherwood said there were new faces on the council since the first turbine, with an enclosed viewing platform, went up beside the EcoTech Centre in 1999.

"We accept there's a huge public debate on the effectiveness or otherwise of wind turbines as generators of electricity and we have to look at what's best not just for the country but for local people here in Swaffham," he said.

"We want people to let us know if they think windfarms like this are acceptable – and I would also like to bring the youth council in because it's their future."

He said everyone could make a significant contribution to saving energy by putting off lights and televisions when not in use, and getting their homes insulated to a better standard, "so that we do not need these additional generators".

Ecotricity's proposal was the subject of a public exhibition, with photo-montages of the proposed new wind turbines and information on wind power technology, at the EcoTech Centre earlier this month.

PUBLIC SUPPORT

Company managing director Mr Dale Vince said: "The feeling we got 'on the ground' in Swaffham at our public exhibition was very positive – about eight out of ten people were all for it.

"It would be a real shame not to have the support of the council on this when public opinion seems to be so strong."