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Green company's mast bid rejected

PUBLISHED: 14:42 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 10:28 12 July 2010

A green power company's plan to put up a meteorological mast at the site of a proposed wind farm was rejected on Tuesday, against the advice of planning officials.

A green power company's plan to put up a meteorological mast at the site of a proposed wind farm was rejected on Tuesday, against the advice of planning officials.

Enertrag UK was seeking consent for a temporary 60m high steel structure on land at New Road, Tivetshall St Mary, to measure, record and log wind speed and direction. It planned to use the data collected as part of an investigation into a “future possible application” to build seven 130m high turbines that would generate renewable energy for the national grid.

The wind farm plan is proving highly controversial, and the proposed mast was also contentious with 209 protest letters submitted to the district council and only one in support.

South Norfolk MP, Richard Bacon and parish councils at Tivetshall St Mary, Dickleburgh, Shimpling and Burston, and Brockdish, also objected. It was claimed the application is premature, as Enertrag has not yet completed its scoping development for the proposed wind farm, and that approval could imply the site is suitable for the purpose. There were also concerns about the visual impact on the surrounding countryside, as the site is near two major footpaths including a bridleway forming part of Boudicca's Way.

Mr Bacon said, in his letter to South Norfolk Council, that the mast would “scar the landscape” and erode the character of the affected area where the pattern of villages and fields dates back centuries.

He also told the planning authority that nearby Tibenham airfield is a significant site in the history of aviation, and a venue for national and international gliding competitions which “should not be defaced by a major industrial development”.

The Civil Aviation Authority, Norwich Airport and the MOD's Defence Estate Organisation, raised no objections to the mast, which is not considered high enough to interfere with air traffic, although Defence Estates said the mast should be illuminated as a precaution.

Planning officers considered the application to be in accordance with council policies. But the authority's south west area planning committee voted 7-0 for refusal, with one abstention, because of the visual impact it would have.

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