Victory for Hemsby turbine protest

CAMPAIGNERS who rebelled against plans for four giant wind turbines in the midst of two scenic communities are celebrating a people power victory after a government inspector threw out the scheme.

SLP Energy wanted to construct the 105m spinning towers on farmland between Hemsby and Ormesby but were turned down by local planners who said they would dominate the sensitive landscape, just metres from the boundary of the Broads National Park.

Now the company, which has been taken over by Dutch engineering giant Smulders, has lost its planning appeal against the decision with the inspector noting the “discordant” impact of the towering turbines on the “simple, attractive, landscape” and the liklihood they would spoil people’s enjoyment of gentle Broads’ waterways.

It brings to an end a three-year saga dominated by letters, petitions, meetings and exhibitions during which both sides claimed the upper hand, and the most support, at one time or another.

Senior planning officer at Great Yarmouth borough council Dean Minns said SLP could challenge the appeal dismissal in the High Court, but would have to find something the inspector had failed to take into account.

SLP withdrew its first application amid a rising tide of anger and had its second, trimmed, application refused by the borough council in December last year. It launched its challenge in July.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said he was delighted at the outcome which he hailed a victory for local people and their highly organised efforts to fend off the turbines, which, if built, would have seen a cluster of four turbine sites within 5km of each other.

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He said the turning point came at a public meeting in the summer when people were encouraged to fire off individual letters to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol. It subsequently received 300, though to be among the best responses to a local issue in 25 years.

“It is a good result and shows what people working together can do. It is a clear win for community power and a well-organised protest,” Mr Lewis added.

Shirley Weymouth, whose borough council ward includes Hemsby, and who was instrumental in organising the public meetings said: “This is fantastic news. It is the best Christmas present for all the people who didn’t want it and proves that sometimes you do win and that you cannot always take a defeatist attitude.”

Bob Reynolds, chairman of Hemsby Parish Council added: “This will please a lot of people, although there were a lot who were for it as well.”

Member for Ormesby Charles Reynolds said: “I am just absolutely delighted that the inspector listened to everything that was said. There was an incredible response from local people and quite rightly so.”

In a six page report sent to council officers on Tuesday the inspector notes that although the site on undulating farmland between Ormesby and Hemsby does not enjoy any special landscape designation it lies 275m from the boundary of the Broads and close to seaside and rural attractions and well-travelled minor tourist routes linking them.

The size and industrial appearance of the turbines, adding to the existing sites at Martham, Blood Hills and Scroby Sands would “unacceptably change” and result in “material harm” to the landscape - even when taking in account the benefits of renewable energy, the inspector concluded, dismissing SLP’s challenge.

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