Lawyers accuse each other of ‘overstating’ cases in West Norfolk wind farm inquiry

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A public inquiry into controversial wind farm plans for land close to two West Norfolk villages has closed today with both sides accusing the other of overstating their case.

Falck Renewables is seeking to overturn West Norfolk Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for nine turbines on a site at Ongar Hill, near Clenchwarton and Terrington St Clement.

A four-day hearing into the scheme ended at the Knights Hill hotel, on the edge of Lynn, this morning.

And, during final submissions, David Hardy, for the developer, claimed the authority had over-estimated the impact the development would have on the surrounding landscape.

He acknowledged there would be an impact, but insisted it was within acceptable limits.

And he argued that the fact the site was still being proposed for development several years after it was first put forward, and following a change of government policy to end subsidies for on-shore wind schemes, showed the strengths of their case.

He said: “It is clear that this remains an excellent location for a commercial wind farm of this size and scale.

“There continues to be strong support for each and every one of these turbines.”

Mr Hardy also accused the council of “opportunism” for opposing the scheme even though its current development plans did not contain specific policies relating to wind energy schemes.

But, in his closing statement, Tim Leader, for the borough council, maintained the authority did have a current plan and insisted there were sound reasons for dismissing the appeal.

He said: “The weight of public opinion is against the scheme. That opposition is based on valid planning reasons.

“Local people believe that if this development were to take place their environment will be badly damaged.

“The appellant has failed to appreciate and under-stated the harm that will be caused to the environment, misunderstood and misapplied the development plan and government policy and attached too much weight to the limited benefits of its scheme.

“The scheme will harm the distinctiveness and diversity of the landscape. That harm arises from the unsuitability of the appeal site for wind farm development in terms of its location and the impact it will have on environmental assets.”

Following the session, planning inspector Paul Jackson visited the site and nearby homes, whose residents fear the development would have a major impact on them if it is allowed to proceed.