Campaigner: 'Norfolk villagers won't accept cash for wind farms'

Light pollution campaigner David Hook of Hempnall for EDP2 feature on environmental campaigners.
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David Hook, who chairs Hempnall Parish Council, is also involved with the Campaign to Protect Rural England. - Credit: Archant © 2009

Norfolk villagers will not be won over by cheaper energy bills when it comes to opposing on-shore wind turbines, a veteran campaigner has said. 

David Hook, who chairs Hempnall Parish Council (HPC) in south Norfolk, said the idea of offering cheaper bills depending on how close people live to on-shore wind farms would have little sway on residents who have fiercely opposed such plans in recent years.

The incentive is thought to be under consideration by energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, ahead of the government publishing its new energy supply strategy this week, and as the UK seeks to become more "energy independent" amid the war in Ukraine.

Business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

Business and energy secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. - Credit: UK Parliament

The energy company Octopus already offers a similar deal to some customers in Yorkshire and Caerphilly, but the government is understood to be considering a nationwide version of that scheme for new on-shore wind turbines.

Mr Hook, who also chairs the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s (CPRE) ‘Vision for Norfolk’ committee, said both HPC and the CPRE were “pro-renewables” but “it’s just a question of the right thing in the right place”. 

Hempnall has in the last 15 years successfully batted back two separate bids by companies Enertrag and TCI Renewables, who both hoped at various stages to build a wind farm on the village’s edge.

Stop Hempnalls Onshore Wind Turbines members Geoff Moulton, foreground, Rob Johnson and Trevor Shurm

Stop Hempnalls Onshore Wind Turbines members Geoff Moulton, foreground, Rob Johnson and Trevor Shurmer, right, with SHOWT banners. - Credit: Adrian Judd

Mr Hook said the idea “provoked an enormous amount of local opposition. The opposition group had 1,300 members".

He added: "Our objections were based mainly on [the] impacts on the landscape,” he said, adding that they also had concerns about light pollution and ecology.

Asked whether Hempnall villagers would be tempted by discounts on their increasingly expensive bills in the event of a new wind farm bid, Mr Hook said similar offers had been made before and people were unconvinced: “They care too much for their local environment.

Local people visit an exhibition outlining plans for a onshore wind turbine farm near Hempnall

Local people visit an exhibition outlining plans for a onshore wind turbine farm near Hempnall - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

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“There might be one or two who think like that.

“But that’s the government - it knows the prices of everything and the value of nothing.”

Another change thought to be under consideration could see the planning system relaxed, reversing changes introduced in 2015 which gave councils tougher powers to block on-shore wind turbines.

Mr Hook said: “If it [a wind farm scheme for the village] comes back it’s going to be tremendously divisive, it’s going to be tremendously damaging I think...

“The government will be opening a can of worms locally, here, if they went down that route again.”