Windfarm probe decision delayed
A decision on a controversial planning application for wind speed measuring mast has been deferred for a site visit by South Norfolk councillors. The application from TCI Renewables would see a 60 metre mast installed for two years at Upper Vaunces Farm to assess the site's suitability for a three turbine wind farm between Dickleburgh, Rushall and the Pulhams.
A decision on a controversial planning application for wind speed measuring mast has been deferred for a site visit by South Norfolk councillors.
The application from TCI Renewables would see a 60-metre mast installed for two years at Upper Vaunces Farm to assess the site's suitability for a three turbine wind farm between Dickleburgh, Rushall and the Pulhams. The land formed part of an historic former airship station.
The district council's south and east area planning committee voted to defer the application for four weeks, so members can assess the impact of the proposed mast alongside an existing mast at nearby Tivetshall St Mary.
The application has been recommended for approval, as the structure will be of slim, lightweight construction and South Norfolk's landscape officer landscape officer considers the level of visual intrusion acceptable, especially as it is only temporary.
But there has been widespread local opposition to the mast, with almost 250 protest letters received as well as objections from the parish councils.
Gavin Clark, development manager for TCI Renewables, said: 'Whilst we are frustrated by the decision to defer the application, this shouldn't lead to significant delays to the process at exactly the time when we can't afford to be hesitant in our attempts to combat climate change.'
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At the meeting on Monday, potential contamination of the land due to its previous use by the Ministry of Defence was one of the main issues raised by objectors. They include the 4Villages action group set up to fight a local wind farm development. .
Pulham St Mary parish clerk, Andrea Donnison, said: 'Contamination of the site is an initial problem that needs to be addressed before anything else is looked at.'
She pointed out that the company plans to attach guy ropes supporting the mast to concrete blocks, to avoid the need to drill into the ground, adding: 'Surely they are saying by that very act that they are not happy with the contamination of the land.'
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon lives in Pulham, but was unable to attend the meeting. His agent Mike Rigby, relayed the MP's concerns about the mast's impact on the countryside - a previous application for a similar mast 50m from the site having been rejected as an 'alien feature' that would be intrusive in the landscape.
David Anders, planning manager for TCI Renewables, said they had approached developer Enertrag to ask if it would sell them wind data from a mast it has in the vicinity, but the request had been declined.
The committee will make its fact finding visit later this month, and hopes to determine the application on August 3.