North Walsham wind turbine pros and cons heard at council meeting
21:24 15 May 2012
Arguments on both sides of the wind turbine debate will be aired at a public meeting next week about a planning application for North Walsham.
Town councillors voted to stage the event after requests from several members of the public concerned about Unity Wind’s bid to erect a single community turbine, with a tip height of up to 120m (nearly 394ft), on Grammar School Farm land, east of Cromer Road.
They took their decision at a planning committee meeting on Tuesday night at which there was standing room only because of the number of members of the public who packed the council chamber.
Nikki Jones, co-owner of Norstead Hall Kennels, the nearest building to the proposed site, told the planning committee that she spoke on behalf of neighbours and staff who wanted to object strongly to “”this hideous monstrosity”.
Ms Jones said it would dwarf North Walsham and would be “the equivalent of bolting five standard articulated tractor units and trailers together spinning around 400ft in the air.” The site was close to a long-established wildlife conservation area of 84 acres.
Ms Jones added that the kennels, established for more than 50 years, had a national reputation and specialised in the care of strays and cruelty cases. Such animals needed peace and quiet.
This proposed turbine would destroy all of this with its everlasting hum and perpetual spinning blades,” she said.
There was no such thing as a quiet turbine, according to Ms Jones who said the kennels contributed an £85,000 annual wage bill to the local economy, as well as supporting a number of local suppliers.
But Alicia Hull, Unity Wind secretary, said the threat of climate change was real and urgent and wind power was the most suitable renewable resource available.
Small-scale onshore windfarms could be undertaken by community groups, bringing profits back to the area.
“It is something normal people can do for themselves and the world, taking responsibility for their own use of electricity,”” said Ms Hull.
Turbines were temporary structures lasting for 25 years which could be replaced if something better was developed. Meanwhile £10,000 annually would be given to community causes.
The work of Unity Wind, a not-for-profit industrial and provident society run by volunteers who invite investment from community shareholders, was in line with government policy and professional surveys had shown that a turbine on the site would not cause noise or ecological problems.
“The kennels and the road will produce much more noise than a turbine,”” said Ms Hull, adding that the structure would not be visible from North Walsham’s Market Place.
Other parts of Norfolk had successful turbines schemes producing renewable energy.
She said: “We think North Walsham should be proud of this scheme, and hope it will become an iconic emblem of the town, along with the new Atrium, and North Walsham will serve as a model for other areas to follow.”
The public meeting will take place on May 24 at 7pm in the Jubilee Rooms at North Walsham Community Centre, on New Road.
Planning committee chairman Dave Robertson said councillors would hear what people had to say at the meeting and decide whether or not to support the application at a special planning committee to be held at 6.15pm on May 29 in the town council offices.
● A poll on the North Norfolk News website (www.northnorfolknews.co.uk) shows people are evenly split over the plan, with 52pc (119) people voting for the scheme and 48pc (109) against.