West Norfolk wind farm appeal rejected

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Proposals for a multi-million wind farm close to two West Norfolk villages have been rejected by a government planning inspector.

Campaigners against the scheme for the Ongar Hill site, between Terrington St Clement and Clenchwarton, have welcomed the ruling, which has been published today.

But the developers, Coriolis Energy and Falck Renewables, have called the decision a “missed opportunity.”

They had been seeking to overturn West Norfolk Council’s decision, made in February last year to refuse planning permission for nine turbines, each of which would have been 127 metres high, on the site.

A public inquiry into the scheme was held over four days at the Knights Hill Hotel in June.

During the hearing, the company argued that fears over the effect of the scheme had been “exaggerated” and claimed the fact they were still pursuing the site despite reductions in government subsidies showed the strength of the proposal.

But, explaning the reasons for his ruling, planning inspector Paul Jackson said: “The advantages, in terms of a significant contribution to the nation’s renewable energy needs, are clearly outweighed in this location by the harm that would occur to landscape character and visual amenity.”

The report’s findings delighted objectors including resident Karen Robinson, who feared she would have to move if the scheme was approved, because of the risk of blindness to her son, Ronnie, who has primary congenital glaucoma.

She said: “I’m really pleased after six years of fighting. Thanks to all who supported us.”

North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham, who also spoke against the scheme at the inquiry, said the inspector had heeded the fears of residents, as well as his argument that the scale of off-shore wind energy projects meant onshore schemes of this kind were not needed.

He said: “I’m delighted. It’s a great day for those residents and for the countryside.”

However, Cath Ibbotson, for Coriolis, said: “We are disappointed with today’s news.

“An opportunity has been missed to provide enough clean electricity for more than 14,000 homes each year.”